Feb 8, 2014

Un-continent: Rodat de Brebis


Gigi informs me that there are six continents on this planet. She swears this is what she learned in geography class. "What?!," I say. "Don't the French consider Antarctica a continent?"

I tell my French friends Béatrice and H-O that in the US, we learn that there are seven continents. "Comment?!," they say. "Do the Americans consider the Arctic a continent?"

It turns out the French consider the Americas to be one continent. I find this shocking, but no less shocking than Béatrice and H-O find it that we consider North America and South America to be separate continents. They correctly point out that the Americas are connected by the isthmus of Central America -- an argument I rebut by pointing out that Europe and Asia are one enormous landmass arbitrarily divided at the Ural Mountains.

Their rebuttal of my rebuttal -- one that is very à propos at the moment -- is that the Olympic symbol is five rings representing all five of the inhabited continents: Africa, Europe, Australia/Oceania, Asia, and the Americas. However, my rebuttal to their rebuttal of my rebuttal is that the Olympic symbol was conceived by....a Frenchman. Baron Pierre de Coubertin was the father of the modern Olympic movement and designed the symbol based on what he had learned at school.

English-language map of the world:

French-language map of the world:

The three things we all agree on: the Antarctic is a continent, the Arctic is not, and we don't want to live in either one of them.


A Rodat de Brebis -- also spelled Roda de Brebis (at the same store, even) -- is as the name suggests, a sheep cheese. It's made from unpasteurized milk and is soft -- very soft. Creamy to the point of oozy, in fact. I think the picture of the interior of this cheese is worth a thousand words. Unlike the ashed, blackened, moldy donut cheeses, this cheese has a fine, white-bloom, moldy crust. It's flavor is similarly lighter -- hints of sheep, of course, but not strongly gamey or savory.

Rodat de Brebis is very difficult to find in the stores and virtually impossible to find online or in print. It hails from Tarn, a southern department near Toulouse, and is a farmhouse cheese made in just one place: at the Teoski farm.


This cheese looks like an Olympic ring.

I think to myself that If I had more people to feed, or more money to spend on cheese, I would buy five of them and stage a photo of the Olympic rings. But luckily I go back another day, and the store display does it for me, completely by accident. Here you go: the five populated continents from the French perspective, represented by cheese rings.


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