Food: Cheese

I said: While the bread and wine of the Mass are deeply entrenched in the Western tradition, cheese as a symbol of Christ is not.  In fact, cheeses are the object of many jokes.

Christopher Jones manifests the reverence the French have for cheeses: Cheese is certainly not a laughing matter in Europe, and in particular in France.   General de Gaulle said that it is impossible to rule a country with more than 400 sorts of cheese.  There are indeed many of several varieties: some are made from ewe's milk (brébis) or goat milk (chèvre) and from cow's milk (like the famous camebert from Normandy.)  Considering the amount of money and investment that has gone into France's cheese industry, anybody who made a joke about it would be probably tarred and feathered on the spot.  But France is not alone: Italy has its own rigorous standards concerning the production of mozzarella (from buffalo milk) gorgonzola (a creamy "blue" cheese similar to the French Roquefort) and the hard cheeses like parmeggiano and padano that we sprinkle on pasta dishes.  In fact, Parma has now been named the capital of "quality control" in the EU.  Spain is also jumping into the cheese fray with its hard Manchegos (sometimes soaked in olive oil) as well as Germany.  That last statement should be revised to read more accurately: to compare Christ to cheese offends American Christians, rightly or wrongly.  If they would just give some of these cheeses a try, they would realize that no offense was intended and that indeed c'est divin, le fromage
RH: Parma the capital of quality control?  It is best known for its food scandal.  Food is the religion of the French.

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: December 5, 2004