Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The history and the invention of Camembert cheese

Legend holds that Marie Harel (April 28, 1761- November 9, 1844) is credited with inventing the gourmet cheese named for her native village of Camembert.

Marie was a 19-year-old cheesemaker. One day in 1819, her thoughts more on the boy next door than on her cheesemaking, she omitted the blue mold culture for one batch of cheese. Upon testing of that one batch with its soft creamy texture and delicious flavor, her fame was made. Camembert started life as a meager, dry, yellow-brown cheese made for family consumption.

Fortunately for cheese-lovers, the Harel family gave shelter to a young priest from Brie region, on the run during the French Revolution of 1789. Having closely watched his parishioners make cheese, he was able to return the Harel’s kindness by imparting his knowledge.

This helped them turn the small, rather bitter cheese into a delicious, softer, infinitely more palatable and memorable experience.

The first known reference to cheese from the village of Camembert is from 1706, and in 1760 a nearby mayor wrote that Camembert’s cheeses were reputedly even better than the local ones at Livarot’s market, although cheeses from Livarot and Camembert were still richer and better than those from Pont I’Eveque.

In 1855 a descended of Marie Harel presented Napoleon III with a sample of this cheese. He liked it and ever since then it became known as Camembert cheese.

In 1890 the characteristic round box was invented and Camembert quickly became of the most popular French cheeses conquering foreign markets as well.

After repeated attempts since 1909 to protect its name, Camembert de Normandie became a protected designation of origin cheese in 1983.
The history and the invention of Camembert cheese
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