May 13, 2008

La Fête du Fromage - Bergues

For the last several weeks I've tasted some cheeses that have completely blown me away by their unique, aromatic and amazing flavors. Things were a little different this week...

Let me introduce you to Bergues.
Bergues is an unpasteurized, lower in fat (only around 20% versus the normal 40-60%), cow's milk cheese that is repeatedly washed in beer (a good thing, I thought) while it matures, producing a rich aroma. It has been made for centuries in the town of Bergues, which is only a few miles from the Belgian border, in an area referred to as French Flanders.

And it tastes like....


Is. Has. No. Flavor.
None. Nada.

We even let it sit out to mature a bit, thinking the flavor would develop into something.
Nope. Not a chance.

Now that you've been introduced to Bergues, you can promptly forget its name. Try not to be introduced again.
And if someday you are faced with Bergues, pretend you are allergic to cheese. Or pretend you are lactose intolerant. Whatever you have to do not to eat this stuff.

Want a wine pairing idea? No, you don't. Because you don't ever need to bother tasting it.

If there are any Bergues lovers out there, I'd like to know. Because really, how can you enjoy eating air disguised as cheese? Pin It


La Belette Rouge said...

I lost interest when you said low-fat. Ugh! Nothing worse than low-fat cheese. Well, I suppose non-fat cheese is worse. Yak!

Jennifer said...

I know! Had I known that when I was buying it, I probably wouldn't have bothered.
And it had such a lovely aroma too....

Non-fat cheese. I agree! Yuk! What is the point? Tastes like rubber.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. It speaks to me.

But I will trust you that the cheese won't speak to me.

If it doesn't have a taste, maybe you can pair it with other cheeses for a fondue. Maybe it has a nice melting texture.

wcs said...

But please, tell us what you really think... ;)

Jennifer said...

Maybe it would be good melting cheese...but I would rather spend my cheese money on cheese with flavor!

was I opinionated enough for you?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, low fat my bum! i'm glad it's not good! kidding...

but that picture makes it look lovely and good-tasting. thanks for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

Take care Jennifer ,if you do down about Bergues , you could become very unpopular in France , because for 20 millions of French ,Bergues is a very famous place from the movie "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis".

B said...

I've had tasteless cheese before, too. I wonder what goes on there. Maybe certain palettes can or cannot taste the flavor? Baffling. And agreed, I'd much prefer spending my cheese money on flavorful cheese! :)

Ksam said...

I was just about to say the same as Jaypee - that I thought Bergues was the town where "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis" takes place!!

Jennifer said...

we are never full,
you're welcome!

I didn't say anything against the region or the town, just that cheese.
Out of the 80 plus French cheeses there have only been a few disappointments and one was from down here.

Yeah, this one seemed completely pointless.

I haven't seen it, mainly because it is a 40 minute drive to the movie theater, but I've heard it is a fabulous movie!
Do they talk about the cheese in the movie?

Betty Carlson said...

I've never even heard of it, but I see it listed as a "fromage allégé" in my Grund "Encyclopédie des Fromates" -- which I assume you have.

I love your Fête du Fromage!

The ones I bought in Albi were great, BTW, even though they were low-odor ones!

Betty Carlson said...

"Fromages" of course not "Fromates" - was I thinking of "tomates...?"

Orange vient de publier ce petit article sur Bergues...peut-être que la ville est plus intéressante que le fromage!

Marylène said...

Sorry to comment so late I've been away for a while and read your impressions about Bergues just today.
As an answer to Samantha, Bergues is the town and the cheese produced around ths town. Like many cheeses in France they are named from the area or the city they come from.
Hope you understand me.

As for the cheese it self I agree the Bergues has most of the time a "low" flavor but you have never tasted a piece of old matured one, "vieux Bergues",it is a quite different one, more like vieille Mimolette (French)or vieux Gouda (Dutch) I know this one isn't French but we, people from the Flandres, have been invaded so often that the notion of borders is meaningless. This explain perhaps the reputation of hospitality of the "chtis".

You have to know that this cheese has been a low fat one from ages, not to follow the modern fashion, just because farmers were using the cream of the milk to make butter (their first goal) and in order to waste nothing and because they were not rich, they made their cheese with the remaining milk.

Jennifer said...

I love Fromates too! :)
Merci pour le petit article.

Thank you for commenting and giving me more information.
I would love to try vieux Bergues. I'm sure it is wonderful if it tastes like Mimolette! Next time I'm up north I'll have to look for it.
I knew about the tradition of this cheese being low fat. Gaperon is the same. That is a good tradition as it utilized all that the milk has to offer.
What do you think of Boulette d'Avesnes?

Marylène said...

Boulette d'Avesnes used to be another way to use leftover pieces of Maroilles that were broken when washing the cheese. Nothing had to be lost.
Since, as far as in the Middle age, people were concerned about the dangers of eating matured "raw(?)"cheese and meat, they used to add as many spices and herbs as possible, especially pepper, clove and tarragon, as disinfectant.
The addition of paprika was made later. The tradition says that it prevented the boulette to get moldy when taken down into the coal mines by the miners. I should have asked my grand father if it was true !
Anyway, it smells more than it tastes,but if yo've never trid it, I advise you to scratch the surface of the cheese and remove the paprika layer, it will remove half of its acridness and strength.

I like Boulette d'Avesnes but I am not a good example, I liked almost 100 % of the cheeses I ever tasted !

Jennifer said...

Yes, I tasted and wrote about Boulette d'Avesnes last June. An interesting cheese that I really disliked.
One of the few that I've ever said that about!

spacedlaw said...

I can see I am not missing much indeed...

Jennifer said...

No, you are missing nothing in my opinion!

neilos said...

Bought a whole one of these cheeses(amongst others) from France last week for my wedding. Having never tried it before, I did a little 'Googling'....and found this article. Naturally i was a little disappointed to read that it was completely tasteless.......HOWEVER.....after leaving the cheese for a week before the wedding I can say the taste is wonderful. Quite strong and mushroomy in flavour...and I love strong cheese so not just me being a wimp!It also is one of the smelliest cheeses I have ever come across....this cheese is fantastic and I have found it to be the complete opposite of the authors experience.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing your Bergues experience. I guess I will have to give it another try. :)