Sorry, Wisconsin. Paris puts you to shame.
Growing up in America’s Dairyland made me a lover of all things cheese. I adore the walk-in refrigerated cheese closets found in many a Wisconsin supermarket. But I’m in absolute bliss among the open-air market sellers and fromageries found all across Paris.
Picture this: We’re fresh off the plane. Dusk draws the sky purple and shoplights glisten across the rain-slickened streets. We literally stumble on ancient stone before the doorfront of Fromager B. Lefranc. The roly-poly man’s window is full of chevre. Inside, a cloud of cheese stink whops my head. We buy a little round nubbin of Rocamadour and I grab from a bin a little booklet, “The Protected Designation of Origin Cheeses.”
Our little patty of goat’s milk cheese has been stamped AOC, Appellation d’Origine, meaning its gastronomical heritage is protected by law. It is part of the cabÃ©cous family of “little goat” cheeses in the Langue d’Oc (an old southern French language). The name stems from a village in the center of this region where little goat cheese is made.
I smell goat in this little circle of cheese. One whiff, and I am beside our neighbor Bootsie, his partner goat wife, and their two little ones who live across the field from our New Mexican backyard. I realize most people might prefer their cheese NOT smell like the animal from which it came; I mean this description in the best possible sense. I feel the field in this little package of creamy cheese. I taste the fresh air and, yes, the essence of goat. It is delicious.
But we do not finish it all. Jerry carries the remainder in his bag. And later that night, the remnants emit a subtle odeur that slowly permeates his bag, our room and everything around us until we remidy the situation. Ooh-la-la!
Cheese stall, MarchÃ© Biologique Raspail