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Mar 27, 2014

National Cheese Day: Fourme d'Ambert

THE STORY:

Happy National Cheese Day! In fact, Happy International Cheese Day, too, according to "Journée-Mondiale" which tells you in French about world-wide days celebrating such diverse things as cheese, Pi, consumer rights, fairytales, puppets, office-cleaning, driving courtesy, and sleep. Trolling through the calendar of World-wide Days is strangely fascinating and addictive.



France's National Cheese Day (in coordination with International Cheese Day) falls on March 27, which also happens to be World-wide Theater Day. Two things I love! Now, if only I could find a way to combine them, say, by producing a one-woman show in which I slowly eat my way through a gargantuan cheese platter. Some call it gluttony, others call it a normal Thursday night at my house. I like to think of it as performance art, and a perfect way to celebrate both Cheese and Theater (and Cheesy Theater) Day.

THE CHEESE: Fourme d'Ambert

Well, I've talked about Fourme de Montbrison, so I figure it's time to give Fourme d'Ambert it's due. In case you've forgotten, what I said about the two Fourmes is "Despite what it says in my encyclopedia, and despite the common belief that Fourme de Montbrison and Fourme d'Ambert are two different names for the same cheese, Fourme de Montbrison is actually its own cheese, with AOC status combined with d'Ambert since 1972, then its own AOC status since 2002 and AOP status since 2010. Specifically the apellation of Fourme d'Ambert et de Montbrison, which lasted for thirty years, was cut into two separate cheeses by decree on February 22, 2002."
 

That's really a mouthful. As is the cheese. It's creamy and salty and (at least in the specific samples I try) in fact creamier and saltier than Fourme de Montbrison. Given that it's aged for 2 months in a humid cellar, during which time it's regularly brushed, it's almost surprising how mild it is. Still, it has that blue cheese tang, just mildly so.

It's an AOP and AOC raw cow's milk cheese from the Auvergne region, smack dab in the middle of the hexagon. While the AOP and AOC labels are new, the cheese has been famous throughout France for centuries -- possibly millennia. Legends associate this cheese going all the way back to the Averni, a Gaillic tribe living in Auvergne before Cesar's conquest of Gaul in 58-52 B.C. Fourme d'Ambert has been well documented since the 8th century.

THE CONNECTION:

It's a cheese. It's a French cheese It's a French cheese on France's National Cheese Day (so in case you're wondering: yes, I could have used any of my 365 cheeses here). You can celebrate the International Cheese Day with the local (or foreign) cheese of your choice, but you won't get more French or more classic than a Fourme d'Ambert. When I look up the past National Cheese Day posters, I even find that Fourme d'Ambert is one of the seven cheeses specifically mentioned in the 2010 poster I choose for this story.

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