Let’s be real…the French know how to do it right.
Walk into a Parisian cheese shop, and see rind developed, plump and balanced from their ripening in the cave attached to the shop.
Ultimately, I would love to emulate this “affinage” process in the states. But can these dreamy soft-ripened cheeses from France truly be reenacted here in the states? Firstly, we must buy pasteurized fresh cheeses, inoculated with the right cultures for ripening. It is nearly impossible to get away with raw cheeses these days from France. Secondly, they must be packaged by a genius, who knows how to vacuum seal, as well as maintain the integrity of the cheese body through at least 3 weeks of transport on a ship. How can you hold a fresh curd at the right acidity level for three weeks without the chemistry altering?
Often times, our experiments in aging result in much “poil de chat” growing (the fuzzy hair mycor mold) which is a result of over saturation of the curd. My vote is to do it locally.
This way, there are more controls, which means higher quality ripening results.
Or, we must convince the French it is worth their while to put extra effort into shipping so sensitively across the seas. Why should it be within their vested interest? My main thought is for the sake of spreading the integrity of artisan cheese into the US, a place with power to alter regulations and food production standards for the entire globe.
Shall we be more true to seasons?
Pierre Androuet, in his Encyclopedia of French Cheeses, shows the cycle of when it is best to chose which type of cheese. In the spring, for example, there are certain cheeses that are at their peak, versus other cheeses that make an appearance later in the summer or even the winter. How does this seasonal perspective of purchasing affect the consumer climate? For example, we see at Formaggio Kitchen, and at any other cheese shop, that the influx of cheese buyers happen around the holidays.
But what cheeses are truly at their peak at this time? There are many to chose from, from harder styles, to wash rinds, to soft-ripened styles…but is the selection of what is truly at its peak to be sold something that matches up with consumers’ desires?
Often times in America, a consumer desires to have a certain cheese when they want it, and at an extremely consistent level. I agree with the standard of consistency. I think a cheese has a desired peak state of being, where its bouquet and aroma are at its most wonderful. There can definitely be the opportunity to chose between a younger or older variety of the perfect cheese, but the focus should be about reaching that state of “immortality.”
The main issue is that globalized lifestyle has not come to hold that qualitative standard. It is the direction the world is going, and we must accept that any attempt to enhance quality with the least amount of waste possible is a step in the right direction.
This is the art of business that I so duly love.
So, my question is not fully answered at this point as to the future of aging soft-ripened goat cheeses of the highest quality imaginable. The French are our comrades in our quest to enhance qualitative living. The more we can learn from their art, the better. Hopefully we will come to a ground where we do not have to constantly live vicariously through them to achieve these goals of better quality food.
The more I discover, the more I realized it is a combination of uniting local food forces with a global atmosphere of discussion.