Jan 25, 2015

Your Secret Job: Fromage du Curé


There are French people I've been friends with for almost four years now, and I still don't know what they do for a living. Are they hiding something? Covert spies? Drug dealers? Book shop owners? Or, perhaps, they're just French. So they don't define themselves, their personalities, their friends, or their lives by their jobs. The feeling is, when you're not at work, why talk about it?

Entire dinner party conversations go by, and none of them are about jobs or work. If you've ever spent five hours in San Francisco, then you know why I find this so bizarre: of those five hours, four hours and 55 minutes of them were probably spent talking about work and the world of work (but I'm leaving time for a bathroom break). San Francisco may be particularly bad this way -- though I suspect NYC and LA are similar, but within minutes of meeting just about any American, you at least know what they do for a living.

I've lived in a fairly diverse set of cultures, and there are some huge cultural differences. For instance, in Japan, you know within seconds not only somebody's general job but also specific role and company name, because the first thing you do is exchange business cards, look at how the other person's status compares to yours, and then decide, accordingly, how deeply to bow.

When I lived in Taiwan, a neighbor I couldn't name in the elevator once asked me not only what I did for a living (at the time I was studying on a Fulbright so the answer was "not much") but how much money I pulled in per month and also the exact cost of my apartment's rent. It made me so uncomfortable, and I just couldn't answer directly, because to Americans, that's gauche.

While jobs and money are not quite taboo here in France, they're not looked upon favorably as a fabulous conversation, either. Talk about art, world affairs, nature, vacation spots, literature (always socially acceptable, even if you're the owner of a Parisian book store named San Francisco Books). Religion and politics are not only not taboo but practically de rigueur as intellectual conversation fodder over a glass of wine. But talking about your job on your time off? What a bore.

THE CHEESE: Fromage du Curé

Let's face it: Fromage du Curé, literally "The Priest's Cheese", is just Curé Nantais by a different name, and just barely different. The cover art on the cheese is about as close to the original as they could possibly get without copyright infringement. Honestly, the Fromage du Curé folks are probably just doing one small thing to prevent it, legally, from being a Curé Nantais.


Both are raw cows' milk cheeses, made in the Loire Atlantique -- by Nantes on the mid-Atlantic region of France, that is. They are regularly washed with salt water during the aging process to produce a stinky sweat-sock of a cheese. It's neither hard nor soft, coming down somewhere in the middle, with a creamy-rubbery texture.


Even the taste is a bit middle-of-the-road, for a stinky cheese. It doesn't come anywhere close to the pungency and oomph of an Epoisses, but then again, it certainly will stink up your fridge.


This a cheese of the Curé, which is a Priest, although, interestingly enough, Google also translates this as "sky pilot" (meaning airplane pilot? But never actually used for that. So what, exactly, is a sky pilot?). You might be friends with a Curé for years before you actually knew this was his job, though the special white collar and lack of wild dating stories might give it away.


  1. Sydney is just like San Francisco. I'm not fussed about the what do you do for work question but it was funny when a mum in mother's group asked me if I was the person she heard on the radio. At that stage, I was working part time after having my first baby and part of my job was to promote consumer advocacy. You could have heard a pin drop as everyone stopped to listen. For me, it was part of my job, but everyone else has their own take on it. Den xxx

  2. very informative post for me as I am always looking for new content that can help me and my knowledge grow better.

  3. Wikipedia informs me that "sky pilot" is slang for a military chaplain ...
    So, there you are !
    ;-)) Francoise


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