Posted by: travelrat | October 15, 2008

Blessed are the Cheesemakers ….




Last weekend, we went shopping. We bought a slab of cheese, hermetically wrapped, and bearing a label proclaiming it to be ‘Farmhouse Cheddar’. Having had some in my cheese sandwich this lunchtime, I concluded:

  1. My kitchen is the closest it’s ever been to Cheddar, in Somerset and
  2. It’s never been within fifty miles of a farmhouse.

They do things differently in France, though. There, they have a thing called AOC, or Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée. It means, for example, that it’s agin’ the law to call your sparkling white wine ‘Champagne’ unless it’s produced in the Champagne district.

Likewise with cheese. General de Gaulle once said there were 264 varieties of cheese made in France, but I suspect that’s just a figure that ‘Mon Général’ pulled out of the air, and there are many more than that.

Where I was staying in the French Alps, there were quite a few local cheeses, and the most favoured seemed to be Reblochon, made from the milk of cows which graze the plentiful Alpine pastures. You can’t call your cheese Reblochon unless it’s made in the Thônes Valley, from the milk of certain specified herds of cows.

And, there’s Reblochon Fermier … farmhouse cheese! … made on the farm from the milk of only one herd. These cheeses bear a green edible pastille in the rind, and people like to seek them out, buying them directly from the farmer, rather like Australians like to buy their wine at the cellar door. You can also get them on the market or at a fromagerie, though.

Not all dairy farms make cheese. Some send their milk away to a co-operative, where it’s blended with the milk of other herds before being made into cheese. These cheeses carry a red pastille.As it happens, I do have a photograph of one of these co-operatives. But, I didn’t say to myself ‘I must take a photo of a cheese co-operative’. I was attracted by the somewhat musical name, which I thought would make a good ‘Silly Sign’

For some ‘cheesy’ video, go to






‘Blessed are the cheesemakers? Why should they get special treatment?’


(John Cleese; The Life of Brian)


  1. That sign is the best ever. LOL. Your post reminds me of the Pythons entire cheese shop skit. One of their best. ‘It’s a bit runnier than you’d like…’
    What an interesting life you lead!

  2. When in Europe, I sustain life on cheese. Cheese and bread. I can’t seem to help myself despite being somewhat lactose intolerant. Love it!

    P.S. The Life of Brian is one of the most sacrilegious and hilarious movies I have ever seen. I miss Monty Python.

  3. I love your cheese story, Keith. The French sure do know how to ‘do’ cheese. Add bread and wine and life doesn’t get much better.
    Great pic too,

  4. I have to admit, I eat more cheese than my doctor would like … Wensleydale, Double Gloucester, Caerphilly and Stilton at home; feta and haloumi in Greece and whatever’s available locally in France.

    Spain does some pretty good cheese, too, but more about that later.

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