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Eating / Cheese

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154435.  Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:02 am Reply with quote

I had hoped that this would fly:

Q: Where is Camembert from?
F: Camembert
A: Brie


Legend has it that an inhabitant of Camembert, one Marie Harel, invented the cheese which bears the village's name. She was reportedly given the "secret" of its manufacture by a priest. During the French Revolution (beginning in 1789), all Roman Catholic priests in France were required to swear allegiance to the newborn republic. Those prelates who refused were executed or forced into exile. Some chose to hide in the countryside while waiting for better days. In 1790, during the month of October, the Abbé Charles-Jean Bonvoust supposedly sought refuge with Marie at her farm, Beaumoncel. He came from the Brie, a region near Paris famous for its cheeses. In return for the shelter she offered him, he gave to Marie the "secret" of making Camembert cheese.


A nice legend, but the region was famous for its cheeses well before the birth of Marie Harel on April 28, 1761 ! In 1569, Brugerin de Champier in his De Re Ciberia referred to "augeron cheeses", as did Charles Estienne, another writer, in 1554. Thomas Corneille, brother of Pierre Corneille (author of Le Cid), spoke in 1708 of "the cheeses of ... Camembert" in his treatise on geography. During the 19th century, thanks to the advent of the railroad circa 1850, Camembert cheeses conquered the markets of Paris and France. In 1890 the now-familiar small round wooden container was invented - and Camembert cheeses were exported throughout the world ! The bicentennial of Camembert cheese was celebrated in 1991.

both from:

154454.  Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:41 am Reply with quote

I've got a small file on this, if you're interested. Every couple of years I get it out, leaf through it, and think ... "nah .... "

Anyway, the short version is it's definitely a myth, according to a book of a few years ago called "Camembert: a national myth," from the University of California Press.

Marie didn't live in Camembert in 1791; the priest is an invention; the cheese had been produced there for at least 80 years (it’s mentioned in writings of 1708).

The review of this book I have here, from the Economist, ends: “And something, surely, seems to have been lost in the translation when he urges his readers to ‘enjoy a brief and delicious moment of transgression with a piece of Camembert’.”

154458.  Wed Mar 07, 2007 5:44 am Reply with quote

Sounds like it's just not runny enough, then.

154613.  Wed Mar 07, 2007 1:13 pm Reply with quote

And possibly stinks a little.


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