May 26, 2014

False Alarm: Affidélice

I explain to my American friend that the French would call her fraternal twins "false twins".
She is alarmed. "Don't tell that to my boys! They certainly think they're real twins."
And of course, they are, but just not in the French language. There are "vrais jumeaux" (literally "true twins", meaning identical) and "faux jumeaux" (literally "false twins"). Unless they're both girls, then they're called "vraies jumelles" and "fausses jumelles".

There's no hint of condescension when the French say it; that's simply the term for it. Yet I cannot help but hear it as a put-down also. My friend clearly feels the same and argues, "They were born on the same day, from the same mother. Me. They're real twins."
And just so you know, this store doesn't sell twins, it sells binoculars, also called "jumelles", for the obvious reason. This has led to a couple disjointed conversations in which I was very confused.
Now, I have a friend who adopted a daughter and gave birth to a biological daughter within a half year in age. So, the two girls are in the same grade at school, and have grown up since infancy together as, roughly, twins. Now I suppose since they were not born on the same day from the same womb, I could see them being called "false twins", but it still raises my hackles.
An old and dear friend of mine was born on the same day, same year, just a couple hours apart from me (hi, Sue!). I've know her since I was six, and I've spent significant time with her family and feel like I'm part of it. We have a ridiculous amount in common, though we are of no blood relation and didn't grow up in the same household. Perhaps we are false twins. That doesn't sound like an insulting label for us, since we're not actually related, but it's about the only time it doesn't seem pejorative.
THE CHEESE: Affidélice
Affidélice is a soft cow's milk cheese that they say is made from cow's milk that is pasteurized. Given the taste and funkiness of the cheese -- and I mean this in the most delicious way -- this is almost unbelievable. So unbelievable that I confirm twice before I'm willing to admit the fact.
It's considered a cousin of Epoisses and is made the same way -- up until the point where they age it with liquor. While Epoisses is aged with Marc de Bourgogne (liquor from the remnants of red wine-making, which explains the cheese's deep orange color), the Affidélice is aged with white Chablis wine (hence the lighter color and the fact that this cheese is sometimes also labeled simply Chablis, and sometimes Saint Vincent au Chablis). The rind is washed two to three times per week over a two month period with salted water mixed with liquor. You can see the difference of the liquor in the color of the cheese.
It's wonderfully strong and pungent with an almost lemony edge to its acid finish, but less so than Epoisses, in my opinion. In truth, I prefer the balance of this cheese. It has a strong, yeasty flavor -- that wonderful, yeasty flavor of working with homemade bread dough.
And the texture is to die for. It's so melty that we can't even serve it with a knife. We have to spoon it out and pour it onto our bread -- and I mean that literally. It's divine, but not for the faint of heart.


Affidélice knows what it's like to be a twin. You could see Affidélice and Epoisses as true twins, identical in virtually every respect yet, like identical twins, not 100% the same. Or you could see them as false twins, two cheeses born from the same cows and methods, but diverging during development. I think they are false twins, but truly great cheeses.


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