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Jan 26, 2014

Bulging Buildings: Tonnelet

THE CHEESE:
 
This large, dry-creamy, mild cheese made from raw goat's milk is related to Charolais. But a Tonnelet's crust is softer, brainier, thinner, and less moldy. The affinage period is similar, though; it can be between 3 weeks and 3 months.


Tonnelet is made in the farm-country of Beaujolais region and so, of course, you can get what wine you're supposed to drink with it. It's saltier and goatier as it ages, which is how I prefer it.

 
 
THE STORY: Bulging Buildings

When you're walking around Paris, and you see a building bulging out, as if it were a botulism-filled can, don't worry about it collapsing on you. These are the medieval buildings, and the construction is that way on purpose. Basically, in those days, they couldn't build up four or five stories easily (and straightly), and even though the permitting process had to be a whole lot easier than today, there were actually still laws to obey -- including leaving space on the roads/sidewalks for pedestrians, horses, carts, and carriages. So the ground floor was built to gradually lean outward. As you can see, that's still easy to build and turns out nice and stable. Then from the next floor up (the 2nd floor in American parlance, 1ère étage in French), it's built relatively straight or even a little inward -- pyramid style.

 

The reason for all of this, of course, is stability. It's easier to build a non-tumbling pyramid than a non-tumbling straight wall. But a full pyramid would take up too much sidewalk space, and this way increases upper floor space while adhering to rules about the sidewalk/road space. So voilà -- the building starts narrower, gets wider, then goes back in again. I love the bulging buildings of the Marais and the Latin Quarter, which are the two medieval areas of Paris that still have lots of these buildings.

THE CONNECTION:

Tonnelet cheese, being keg-shaped, also tends to bulge around the middle.

 

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