Jul 5, 2014

The Sound of Defeat: Bresse Bleu


Yes, people are crazy about "the Blues" here. The country is crazy for the World Cup. Not, me, however. I don't actually follow the games, but I can tell the results simply by the noise level on the street, at least when Algeria and France win. In order to know if it's Algeria or France we're cheering on, however, I have to look out the window and see if people are streaming by with French flags.

Allez les Bleus! (Go Blues!)


All I can say is that the celebration sounds a lot louder when it happens at midnight...

World Cup excitement builds with each round. I promise I won't see this many flags and this much patriotism on Bastille Day.
Enthusiasm abounds. Until last night, that is. The game ends around 8pm, and Anthony and the girls, who are watching it on TV while I'm prepping dinner (no, I'm not being a martyr -- this is to tell you I would rather prep dinner than watch the game. And no, I'm not just anti-soccer, because I'd rather wash dishes than watch a baseball game), yell out, "The game's over!" They then go on to tell me that Germany beat France, but it's completely unnecessary, because I can hear that Germany beat France. Which is to say that I don't hear anything. Outside our windows, central Paris is quiet, quiet, quiet.

THE CHEESE: Bresse Bleu

Bresse Bleu is a supermarket blue cheese and is the specific brand name of a the more generically named Bleu de Bresse. The Bresse Bleu is made from pasteurized cow's milk, originally from the Bresse area, which is a vague region that straddles the current regions of Rhône-Alpes, Burgundy, and Franche-Comté. Just because it's a supermarket cheese, that doesn't mean it's automatically industrial, however. In this case, all of the milk is collected from farms within a 30km radius of the cheesemaker. And in 2013, it won a bronze medal in the Concours Generale Agricole (General Agricultural Contest) sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food.

It's a blue cheese, of course, and one that is modeled more after an Italian-style blue, than a French one. The cheese was invented after World War II in response to the growing popularity of Italian cheeses here in France. It's covered with a white bloomy mold, and the outside looks for all the world like an industrial Brie -- thick, chalky, hard, and not particularly fun to eat. Seriously, that is not white paper wrapping over the cheese in the photo below. That is the cheese crust itself. Theoretically edible but, um, not really.

Surprisingly, though, inside is creamy and moist. I mean, it does advertise "cremeux" on the package; I just don't believe it until I taste it for myself. Just like the appearance, the flavor seems to lie somewhere between a Brie and a blue, too: butter, milky, and mild, with just a hint of blue tang. It's not bland, but it also doesn't have anywhere near the intensity of an unpasteurized or more elite blue cheese. For some people, that might actually make it more delicious, frankly.


As they say each time the French national team plays, "Allez les Bleus!" "Go, Blues!" It's a reference to the color of their uniform of course, but in my world, also to this category of cheese.


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