Nov 20, 2014

Long Live the King!: Le Chouan


In CM2 -- 5th grade, that is -- Gigi's teacher was talking with the class about government. One of Gigi's classmates contributed, in all sincerity, "I want the King to come back..." Pregnant pause in the classroom..."That way, my family would be nobility again."

Well, ooookaaay then. The thing is, she's not kidding. But at least she's showing an understanding of how the nobility worked in France. Her last name is a De Somewhere name. If you were "De" Somewhere, it meant you were "From" somewhere, and it was used to denote the nobility of the region. This has remained the last names of these families.

By this point, it's a bit unusual to have a De Somewhere name, and there is definitely a pride and often snobbery associated with it.

The teacher, by the way, responded calmly, "You're just repeating what your parents say. You don't even understand what you're talking about," and moved on. Upon reflection, however, at that age, I'm sure that nearly all of the children would merely parrot their parents' politics. It's just more noticeable when the parents' politics has extreme royalist leanings, and is extremely conservative (they also attend a Catholic church that split off from the church after Vatican II, protesting that it was too liberal. Their church continues to hold Mass in Latin, with the Priest's back to the congregation, and with men and women separated.) That family may be on the extreme end of the conservative spectrum, but they're not the only one hanging out there. Forget about democracy; long live the King!


Le Chouan is a raw goats' milk cheese made in the Vendée area of western, Atlantic France. More specifically, it's made at a fromagerie on the way out of Aizenay on the road to St.-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. It's a family, artisanal cheese farm, created a quarter of a century ago by the patriarch of the family, Monsieur Zerathe. Their specialty is goat cheeses, both fresh/young and aged, which can only be purchased on site or at nearby supermarkets, which is where I find mine.

Le Chouan is a fresh, young cheese -- more cottage cheese than stinky cheese. This is not to be confused with the Tomme des Chouans which is an orange, stinky, aged cheese.

Besides being ultra soft, it's also very mild, with just a hint of lemony tang. It's as if a yogurt has just barely been solidified.


My Goodness: The things I learn while researching this blog. I was originally planning on using le Chouan for a different story, but it turns out Chouan -- as well as being a historic region in western France -- is generally a family name, and one that has a meaning of "the Owl" or "the Silent One." This family name, Chouan, was taken as a nom de guerre during the French Revolution by a couple brothers who famously led a revolt (thereby dubbed the Chouannerie) against the French revolutionaries, in support of King Louis XVI.

Therefore, it is the perfect cheese to pair with a story on unexpected Royalists who exist even today, albeit in smaller numbers. And, we hope, with less violent tendencies.


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