While most of us love cheese, French people are more passionate when it comes to their “fromage”. With over 500 kinds of cheese to take pride in, who wouldn’t be? Quite a number of people in France eat cheese with every meal, just after the main course and before dessert are served. With a wide variety to choose from, they never have to enjoy the same cheese in a year, if they fancy.
Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Chaumes and the list goes on and on. What about the Cantal, produced the same way as British cheddars, from the Auverge region? All these cheeses are made from authentic regional recipes and have distinct flavours, uniquely their own.
And whether you choose your cheese by type or by texture, the main takeaway to extracting its flavour and serving French cheese the way French chefs do is in the cutting of each serving.
Here are 4 easy-to-follow tips to properly cut and serve French cheese:
1. It is best to be aware of what’s around you.
If you are in France or have been invited by your French colleagues to their flat, don’t be surprised if no cheese is in sight before the main course. In the French culinary tradition, cheese is served after the meal or right before dessert. And if you are to get a serving of that delectable and supple cheese, do not cut a huge slice. For all you know, French cheese can be expensive and given that you have just finished a meal, a big chunk of cheese might send the wrong signal that you did not get enough to eat. To play safe, observe how the others do it.
2. Know that French people keep off the dough.
Truth be told, we can be unmindful when eating cheese, let alone, cutting it while at the comfort of our homes. But, if you having dinner over somebody else’s home and enjoying French cuisine, complete with wine and cheese, be careful when you cut a slice. The proper way is not to touch the dough. Instead, use a cheese implement when you remove serving from the rind. And if there is a variety of cheese to enjoy, use separate knives for each. Lastly, do not hold it with your fingers and use a fork or put a slice of cheese on top of a piece of that baguette that you have torn. Do not spread it like butter.
3. Observe the ratio of your dough and rind.
The rind is where the cheese flavour comes from and as such, it can have a stronger taste and can be a bit hard to chew. Do not be tempted to leave it as you cut through the cheese and just get the soft, inner part. The right way to get a portion is to make a cut down to the bottom. While other people waste the rind, others pair it with wine.
4. Slice the cheese according to its shape.
Cheese comes in a variety of forms: round, long triangle, log, square and flat. With different shapes available, it’s not proper to cut them in the same way. When cutting Camembert, a round type of cheese, start cutting from the centre, just as you would slice a round cake. As for log cheeses, make your cut in rounds. Conversely, a small round or square cheese is cut in halves or quarters while long triangles like are cut from the tip, diagonally.
You need not grow up or live in France to perfectly cut and serve French cheese. With these four simple suggestions, you will never go wrong! So, what are you waiting for? Here’s to Fromage!