PDO for Brie de Coulommiers – Let it Brie?!

It’s pretty crazy how cool the people are who work in the cheese business. Most – if not all – do it to for the love of cheese, not the reward, as the cheese is reward enough.

My good cheese friend @fromage_and_co who I was fortunate enough to have rubbed shoulders with working at NYD is a very cool cheese chick and as such a very cool first guest blog post to share…. Over to @fromage_and_co !

Thank you CurdNerd. Ok, you all know Brie. That’s a cheese you all eat, wherever you live in the world. But do you know that this is an actual natural, geological region of France, where the white mould cheese tradition was born, hundreds of years ago? And do you know that brie is now a cheese made and sold all over the world, but there are only a few coming from that region? Two of them got a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO): Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun. In that context, I am going to tell you the whole story of our project: a PDO for Brie de Coulommiers…

Once upon a time, in the late XIXth century, the natural region of La Brie was the cradle of a flourishing trade: the white mould cheese. The cheese were named Brie after the region, and they were told apart thanks to the market where they were sold. That’s how Brie de Meaux, Brie de Melun, Brie de Coulommiers, etc. were born. The cheese market in Coulommiers was really important in the late XIXth century. In 1930, there were 250 cheesemakers (all farmers back then) coming from the very local area, selling their produce to “affineurs” at the Coulommiers market every Wednesday. In 1946, affineurs started to make cheese. Meanwhile, the number of cheesemakers dropped down, they were only 60 left in 1946! What’s interesting is they were all making brie de Coulommiers (by definition!) of different sizes, but only the little one, diameter 13 to 15cm, was unique to the Coulommiers market. This is this little cheese, nowadays commonly called Coulommiers, that we want to protect and defend, cause it refers to a local know-how, a place, a “terroir” as we say in French. Most Coulommiers sold in France are made hundreds of kms far from the town Coulommiers. This is a massive problem for the town which name is use for business purpose everywhere, and customers don’t know what is actually the traditional and local Coulommiers cheese. That’s where the PDO project makes sense. It would give legitimity to the local producers. Also, it would highlight the fact most of these “copies” are made of pasteurised milk. another point that we wish to highlight: tradition implies raw milk.

If the cheese market doesn’t exist any longer, there is now every Easter a cheese and wine fair in Coulommiers, where people from France and across the border come to sell their produce. That’s where, 2 years ago, local councillors lead by the Franck Riester, Deputy Mayor, and journalists launched the PDO project. Since then, a study has been done: Its purpose was to define the history of the cheese, its link to the region (what we call in French le terroir -geography, geology, sociology, etc.), and if the cheese made locally nowadays still meets these characteristics. Then we had to study and compare milk production and cheesemaking technics in the past and today. We have started to draw up a file, content has to be filled with the requirements for milk and cheese production. The application takes years , it is the very beginning, but we definitely believe it is worth fighting. Longue vie au brie de Coulommiers!

If you are interested, please feel free to ask for further information! adeline.doret@coulommiers.fr

Brief note about the Cheese and Wine Fair: La Foire Internationale aux Fromages et aux vins de Coulommiers takes place every Palm Sunday, for 4 days. We welcome 60 000 visitors, and over 200 exhibitors (cheese & wine mainly, but other food specialty as well). We have a few exhibitors coming from overseas, and would love to welcome more.

About Curd Nerd

Put it in my belly, especially if it's smelly.
This entry was posted in cheese, cheesemaking, cheesesolidarity, food, France, media, milk, PDO, unpasteurised. Bookmark the permalink.

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