Nov 16, 2014

Reflecting on Paris: Clacbitou


I want to tell you something that may surprise you: I wasn't always one of those people who was fanatic about Paris and waxed rhapsodic about the city, even when we planned to move here. For me, appreciation and affection for the city and for life in France is something that has built gradually. But now that I love it wholeheartedly, I thought it was high time for me to reflect on the city's reflection.

Many people see Paris through a veil of food and wine (and cigarette smoke).

And I am clearly not capable of giving you any sort of photo montage without at least one shot of Notre Dame.

It's like window-licking, but what I'm drooling over is the city itself instead of what's inside the window.

It's not just the city that reflects upon itself. The traffic sometimes reflects something other than maniacal driving.

The Seine -- and other bodies of water -- gets in on the act.

Whichever lens you look through, there's beauty and history.

Sometimes you can see the outside reflecting on the inside.


It's not all Mansard roofs and wrought iron railings. There's the occasional stuffed banana in the window (?!) and also some nods to modernity on one side of the reflection or the other.

I could fill tomes (tomes, that is, not tommes) with reflection photos not just of Paris but of the rest of France, too (here, just one photo, of Chenonceaux in the Loire).

Here's proof that I even let Anthony hold the camera once in a while. This, too, is outside of Paris, in Burgundy, but visually expresses what I feel: that our time in Paris (over 3 years so far) and my Year in Fromage (363 days so far) are just whizzing by.

THE CHEESE: Clacbitou

The Clacbitou comes from Burgundy, and so does the name -- a remnant of an old local dialect that talks about the cheese's specifications: goat's milk. There is, however, some confusion over the name. There's a commercial cheese product, with garlic and herbs, called Clacbitou. It's not the same product. Once (and only once) I read that this real, non-industrial farmhouse cheese I'm speaking about would be differentiated by spelling it "Claquebitou". However, no cheesemaker or seller in the world seems to pay attention to that, and they all call it Clacbitou.

It's considered a big brother to Charolais, which it closely resembles, except larger. It's a lactic cheese with a mellow taste and lovely dry but soft texture. The interior is a snowy white, and it's both firm enough and tasty enough to eat in plain chunks, after having been aged roughly 5-10 weeks (which is quite long for a goat cheese). It's crumbly enough that it's hard to cut neatly and sheers off, but it does turn creamy once in the mouth. It ranging from mildly to perfectly salty. While it's not too bland, it's certainly a mellow cheese, and one that takes well to being eaten plain or with honey or fruit toppings.


The connection is the photo I click of the Clacbitou, with its reflection of Paris, outside my window.

By the way, people often ask me if I actually remember the cheeses I've tried. Usually, I do, but I have to admit that I forget to mark the Clacbitou off my list the first time I buy it at the end of September, and I accidentally buy it again just three weeks later. I don't think my mind was totally present those first couple weeks of October, and I obviously never got around to marking it off on my list, so perhaps I can be excused for my lapse. If I had to repeat a cheese accidentally, I'm glad it's a good, creamy goat that I enjoy.


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