Frenchified Friday: Who Cut the Cheese

13 Apr


/ˈfrɛntʃəˌfaɪ/ [fren-chuh-fahy] verb (used with object), -fied, -fy·ing. to make (something or someone) resemble the French, as in manners, customs, or dress.

Only about 20 days to go until mom and dad arrive to France. Today, I continue the Friday tradition of getting them prepared for their stay. Since last week was about wine it’s only à propos that this week will focus on wine’s partner, cheese.

It should be known that my parents aren’t prone to indulge in what we call a “culinary experience” here in France, which is too bad since in 2010 Unesco enshrined the “gastronomic meal of the French” as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” Although a fine dining experience likely won’t happen during their stay, one thing that they won’t be able to get around is the almighty cheese course.

Lesson #2

Remember there’s cheese coming. I clearly remember one of my beginner mistakes when I arrived to France took place at the table for lunch at chez Debreuille. First, I mistook the appetizer as the “plate principal” (as the main plate is called here) and proceeded to take seconds of the appetizer only to be greeted by le fromage in between the plate principal and dessert. Even though I was stuffed I had to try the cheese board, which had some of the biggest cuts of cheese I have ever seen. It wasn’t all for not, since I discovered my favorite French cheese, Comté. Some people will tell you it’s cheese for kids, but don’t let them fool you they are just trying to keep it all for themselves.

Other tips to remember:

  • When the cheese board is passed to you there may be some unidentifiable objects, particularly things that resemble green circles – this is cheese. The French like their cheese stinky, but I prefer the stench reside on my gym socks and not on my food, so feel free to pass on this, unless you want to really blend in.
  • Next, there’s an art to cleaning your utensils for utilizing them during the cheese course. Sometimes you will get new utensils, but other times not. Watch how artfully the French use their left over bread (see lesson #3 next week on le pain) wipe off their fork and knife, after all you can’t taint the cheese with old particles of food.
  • There’s also an art to cutting the cheese (insert joke here), I haven’t mastered this, so like lesson #2 just defer to Baptiste.
  • Also, the cheese course can last for a while as if you have any left over wine, you need cheese, which means you need bread and if you have left over bread this means you need cheese, which evidently means you need wine…you get the picture…it can be an endless cycle.
  • Oh, and finally, no, they don’t have those plastic squares which us American’s call cheese. When you see cheese in its natural habitat you’ll discover it comes in all different shapes, sizes and textures, but perfectly square, which fits on American sandwhich bread, and plastic aren’t a few of them.

Until next week….bonne degustation!


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