A Slice of Brie: How the French Cheese Became a Global Delicacy

Brie is a soft, creamy, buttery cheese that originated in France but is now popular worldwide. It has a creamy interior with a soft, bloomy, edible rind of white mold. Brie is traditionally made from cow’s milk but can also be made from goat’s milk. The cheese is high in fat and rich in calcium with relatively high sodium content. It’s also a good source of protein and vitamins A and B-6

The History of Brie

Brie is named after the Brie region in France, where it originated. Brie is one of the oldest cheeses in the world, dating back to the 8th century. It was originally known as the “Queen’s Cheese”, or, after the French Revolution, the “Queen of Cheeses,” and was eaten by all social classes

According to legend, the French emperor Charlemagne first tasted brie in 774 at a monastery in Reuil-en-Brie and was so impressed by its flavor that he ordered its annual production Brie was also a favorite of King Louis XVI, who reportedly requested it as his last meal before his execution in 1793

Brie became more widely available in the 19th century, when railways allowed for its transportation across France and Europe. It also gained international recognition in 1815, when it was crowned “Le Roi des Fromages” (The King of Cheeses) at the Congress of Vienna, a meeting of European leaders after the Napoleonic Wars

The Production of Brie

Brie is made from pasteurized or unpasteurized raw cow’s milk. Enzymes and rennet are added to help the milk thicken and curdle. The curd is cut and ladled into round molds, and the whey is drained off. The cheese is salted and then left to rest for a week to allow the rind to bloom

The rind is formed by the growth of white mold, such as Penicillium candidum or Penicillium camemberti, which gives brie its characteristic aroma and flavor. The mold also helps to ripen the cheese from the outside in, creating a soft and creamy texture

Brie is aged for at least four weeks in a controlled environment, where it is turned and brushed regularly to ensure even ripening and prevent excessive moisture loss. The aging process can be extended to several months or even a year, resulting in a stronger and darker cheese called brie noir

The Varieties of Brie

There are now many varieties of brie made all over the world, including plain brie, herbed varieties, double and triple brie and versions of brie made with other types of milk. Indeed, although brie is a French cheese, it is possible to obtain Somerset and Wisconsin brie

The French government officially certifies only two types of brie, Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun, which are both made from raw milk and have a protected designation of origin (PDO). Brie de Meaux is larger and milder than Brie de Melun, which has a more intense and salty flavor

Some varieties of brie cheese are smoked, which adds a distinctive flavor and aroma to the cheese. Smoked brie can be made by exposing the cheese to smoke from various sources, such as wood, peat, or tea leaves

The Consumption of Brie

Brie is usually served at room temperature or slightly warmed, which enhances its flavor and texture. It can be eaten with bread, crackers, or fruit, or used as an ingredient in various dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches, or pies. Brie can also be paired with wine, such as champagne, chardonnay, or pinot noir.

Brie is considered a delicacy and a symbol of French culture and cuisine. It is often enjoyed as part of a cheese platter or a dessert course, especially during festive occasions. Brie is also a popular gift item, as it can be wrapped in decorative paper or foil and presented in a wooden box or basket.

Brie is a cheese that has a long and rich history, a diverse and delicious production, and a wide and loyal consumption. It is a cheese that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, and anytime. It is a cheese that deserves a slice of appreciation.