While mozzarella exceeds sales of camembert in France, a cheese maker defends the local “stinky” classic – .

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While mozzarella exceeds sales of camembert in France, a cheese maker defends the local “stinky” classic – .


French cheesemaker Clément Brossault always tries to introduce his young customers to the creamy and tangy flavor of traditional Camembert, but he admits it can be too intense for most modern palettes.
Italian mozzarella topped camembert sales in France for the first time last month, reports the French newspaper Le Figaro.

This can be a strange comparison, as mozzarella is typically used to cook foods like pizza and pasta, while Camembert cheese is most often served on its own, perhaps with a glass of wine.

Yet the declining popularity of traditional French cheese has foodies, chefs and local cheese vendors worried about the future of one of the country’s most iconic products.

Brossault, owner of La Fromagerie Goncourt in Paris, remains a strong supporter of Camembert – as long as it’s authentic, of course. Here is part of his conversation with As it happens host Carol Off.

What do you think makes Camembert so irresistible?

You have a texture… it’s creamy. [It] it stinks, so it’s not something that we forget… We cannot eat it, for example, for a first meeting with a woman, because it is too much.

Wow, stop there. Explain yourself there, please.

It’s really stinky. For me, this is one of the smelly ones.

People don’t know this because today you have a lot of industrialized Camembert, but it’s quite strong, and that’s why I like it. The real one, I mean. The one called Camembert de Normandie. So you have to be really focused when buying it, that’s the name. It is made with a local cow in a very traditional way, only by people and not by machines. So it makes all the difference and it gives that incredible taste.

French cheese maker Clément Brossault, second from right, runs Fromagerie Goncourt in Paris. (Fromagerie Goncourt / Facebook)

OK, now how does that compare with mozzarella cheese?

It is night and day. It’s white and black.

Mozzarella is fresh and easy… You want to eat it in the summer… On your pizza, you know, it’s great because it’s the perfect texture when you cook it.

And is that something you could serve on your first date, I guess?

Yeah, well, good point for the Italians.

But as you point out, I mean, mozzarella and camembert is like apples and oranges, right? I mean, they’re two completely different things. So why is it making so much noise in France that mozzarella sells better than Camembert at this stage?

We have pride. It is therefore one of our symbols, like the Eiffel Tower, like baguettes. So I guess when this study was released it rang a bell for the people we [have] changed our habits too.

And let’s defend the Camembert too, or show it to young people, to tell them how good it is.

It’s not [an] easy, but it’s like reading a book. You can read an easy one, or you can read Victor Hugo which takes some effort.

This is what we tried to do in my little shop in central Paris, La Fromagerie Goncourt. When I see young people, I mean a teenager or even in their twenties, I try to show them all the traditional French cheeses, and even the strongest ones. [ones]. Sometimes you just have to try to like it.

A chef prepares a Caprese salad made with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. (Roberto Salomone/AFP/Getty Images)

OK. What you are describing, however, is the kind of Camembert I might buy at your Fromagerie Goncourt. The pie chart we get here in Canada doesn’t sound like that. In supermarkets you get most of it, and that’s a very different thing. It’s creamy, but it’s dry. You are not describing the Camembert cheese which I think most people eat these days.

Like I said, you’ve industrialized it, and you’ve got the right one.

I think that in France, one in 10 Camembert is the true one. So I don’t know Canada. I’ve never been there. But I guess in the supermarket… it’s hard to find.

Authentic Camembert – made from fatty raw milk in the French region of Normandy – still shows Camembert de Normandie on the label, Brossault says. (Mychele Daniau/AFP/Getty Images)

Do you think this is part of the problem, maybe why are people giving up on pie chart?

I’m not sure, to be honest, that real traditional Camembert cheese is made for our world other than a few people. [who are] ready for great taste.

For example, if you buy Camembert … if you don’t eat [within] one week it will turn red. Sometimes it will turn a little dark.

I’m not sure people can be ready for this… instead of a mozzarella that doesn’t smell in a fridge.

So I do not know. It may be something too traditional to attract a lot of people.

Are you not worried that camembert sales are down and mozzarella sales are up, then?

What worries me is that we have to defend real cheese… It’s my concern more than whether mozzarella sells more than Camembert.

What I want to defend is a good mozzarella or a good Camembert, and made in a traditional way.

Because nowadays people buy cheese and think it’s something traditional. But no, you watch the [label] or ask your cheese maker. What do you have behind that? Do you have additives, or is it just natural?

This is what sometimes makes me sleep badly.


Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview conducted by Kate Cornick. The questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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