Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Will work for cheese
Patricia and Eric Lefebvre, Fromagerie de Paris
My last 10 days in France were to be spent in Paris visiting cheese shops and, with any luck, working in one for several days. Although an unconventional approach to continuing education, I thought it would be worth a try. I'll save you the depressing details of rejection. The conclusion: no work for Kendra. The responses varied from the very abrupt, "No one enters my cave! And no photos!" to the more gentle, "I'm sorry, but I have too many appointments already." Dommage. For those shops not allowing any photos, I took the liberty of lingering a while so as to create a memory. I'll refrain from bitterly naming the shops offering the more coarse rejections (although I will say they are among the more famous.) On a brighter note, however, there was one gem that made the entire Parisian sejour worthwhile. La Fromagerie de Paris on rue Charenton is run by the oh-so-friendly and welcoming Patricia and Eric Lefebvre. Upon my first visit (they at least considered letting me work there) they regretted not having an aging cave to show me, but directed me to the fromagerie of Alain and Marie Quatrehomme. It was here that I received the gentler of rejections, although you can't say I didn't try my hardest. While I did not get to see an aging cave or get to work in a shop, I still learned a few things to pass on:
1. Paris changes fast. The majority of recommended and published cheese shops ahd already shut down or moved. I highly recommend a long distance phone call before your trip, if you plan to visit them. This will save you many euros in metro tickets to get all over the city.
2. The verdict on Brie: According to Patricia Lefebvre, and I trust her authority on the matter, Brie is eaten at peak ripeness, creamy and soft, in Paris. Everywhere else in France, it is eaten before this creamy state, firm and, in my opinion, lacking that 'umph' in flavor. This would explain the firm Brie I had in Belfort.
3. Just as Paris's local business climate changes with the tide, so do the EU laws on food. All the "I don't know"s from previous blogs rest as so, since it is so difficult to keep up with them as they change. Why can't our American cheese laws change?! Bring in the fresh raw-milk cheese please!
All in all, the trip afforded me many surprises--disappointing and equally exhilarating. If you plan to take a trip to Frane in the future, feel free to contact me for suggestions on restaurants, sites, cities, and other things. And if you ever need an interpreter to accompany you of a French food extravaganza, my bags are packed!