In celebration of the stinkiest cheeses to come from France

Gerard Depardieu is bashing France for its "stinky cheese", but we couldn't give a whiff. Here are six of the smelliest you need to bury your nose in, at least once in life. What others would you add?

In celebration of the stinkiest cheeses to come from France
Photo: Chris Buecheler/Flickr
French actor Gerard Depardieu said in an interview on Thursday that France was “populated by imbeciles making wine and stinky cheese”.
While we'd disagree with the imbecile bit, he has a fair point when it comes the the cheese. 
In fact, France makes some of the strongest-smelling cheeses in the entire world. Cheese Louise some of them will blow your hat off.
Photo: cskk/Flickr
But before we get into the stinkiest cheeses, where does the smell actually come from?
While some cheeses can smell from the mould inside, the ones below are all smelly due to the rinds.
In the process of cheese making, the rinds of many cheeses are rubbed with brine (salty water) in order to moisten the surface and attract bacteria that helps the fermentation process. 
The damp surface typically attracts Brevibacterium, a type of bacteria that can be found on the human skin and can cause foot odour. 
So why do people love the cheese if it stinks so much?
Easy – it tastes great. In fact, many of the stronger smelling cheeses don't actually taste anywhere near as strong as they smell. And if you can find a good drinkor food to pair with the cheese, all the better. 
“It smells like the gunk that accrues under your toenails,” wrote one reviewer.
Epoisses, if you've never heard of it, is a very soft cheese that's washed in brine and brandy before being aged for six weeks. 
And its smell is so strong that it was once banned from public transport in Paris, or so the rumour goes.
But don't let the smell put you off, and enjoy it with a sweet wine like Sauternes. 
Photo: n.kuzma/Flickr
This is the most famous cheese on this list, yet also one of the funkiest smelling. 
A cheese columnist once compared the smell of the cow's milk cheese to having “hints of garlic, barnyard, and ripe laundry”.
In this online advice thread, a woman was so surprised by the “rotten feet” smell of a boxed camembert sent from France that she asked if she would likely die from eating it. 
Photo: Danielle Martineau/Flickr
Pont l’Eveque
This is one of the oldest cheeses to come out of Normandy – though it might smell to you like the oldest thing to come out of your fridge. 
One cheese blogger said its interior “smells fecal, a bit like horse or dog droppings”.  
But it tastes good, of course, but we recommend eating it at a picnic rather than in a tiny Paris apartment, for example. 
Photo: FreckledPast/Flickr
Munster d'Alsace
A monstrous smell, this eastern France version of the Munster cheese has a rich flavour and it comes with what some have called an “unbearable odour”. 
It matures in damp cellars, gets washed in brine, and has a “very pronounced, powerful aroma that is oddly reminiscent of fried eggs”, at least according to this website that specializes in selling gourmet delicacies. 
One blogger who came across the Gerome cousin of Munster wrote “You can't escape the stink with this cheese. Just from unwrapping the cheese, my hands smelled of barnyard and grass for the rest of the evening.” 
Photo: Zubro/WikiCommons
One reviewer may have compared it to baby poo and rotting vegetable matter in the same review, but many swear by it. 
The cheese is made from cow's milk, and comes from the tiny village of Morbier in eastern France's Franche-Comté.
It's visually quite distinguishable from other cheeses thanks to the fine black layer of ash running horizontally through it. 
Good luck getting past the smell though, which one reviewer compared to “a putrid creature from the depths of hell”.
Photo: WikiCommons
And lastly… Be prepared for an attack on the nostrils with this one. First made by monks from northern France over a thousand years ago, this cheese has been a favourite in France ever since.
Once again, its rind gets washed in brine during the processing, causing its distinctive smell. 
Some have compared it the smell to a barnyard smell, others have said it reminds them of dead rodents, and others have suggested you gobble it up at once because your fridge at home will never smell the same again if you save a bit. 
Photo: Frédérique Voisin-Demery/Flickr

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Why is everyone in France talking about Mont d’Or cheese today?

Mont d’Or cheese is a French treasure you can only find at a specific time of the year. But why's that?

Why is everyone in France talking about Mont d’Or cheese today?
A Mont d'Or cheese. Photo: AFP

Today is the day!

September 10th marks the beginning of the sale of the famous Mont d’Or cheese in France.

This rich cheese with a rich history borrows its name from the highest point of the Doubs département (located in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in Eastern France) and goes way back since it was already mentioned in the 1280 Encyclopédie des Fromages (the Cheese Encyclopeadia).  


You can also find it under the name Vacherin, but rather in Switzerland than in its original region.

Though it is much loved, the Mont d’Or cheese is also much awaited as it can only be savoured from September 10th to May. Here’s why.

A seasonal cheese

The Mont d’Or was first created after peasants looked to create a smaller cheese with their “winter milk”, as the production was reduced during the coldest months. A raw milk that, according to the Fromagerie La Ferté, gives it a “texture that offers a soft and creamy consistency without being too runny”.

It can only be produced from August 15th to March 31st, hence why its appearances in dairies are seasonal.

Consequently, it became a winter cheese and could not be produced in the summer since it can’t handle hot temperatures. During spring and summer, where milk is more abundant, Comté cheese is made. 

READ ALSO: This is how much the French are obsessed with cheese

Specific production process

But other than being unobtainable during the sunny months, its making process also follows a list of specifications since it has both the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and the Appelation d’Origine Protégée.

These designations attest to the authenticity of the product and of the savoir-faire of its producers while protecting its name not only in France but in the entire European Union.

The Mont d’Or can then only be produced in a designated area of 95 Haut-Doubs municipalities – all at least 700 metres above sea level – and made at of raw milk from grass-fed Montbeliarde or French Simmental herds.

A woman cutting the spruce straps that circle the Mont d'Or cheese. Photo: AFP

The cheese is also supported by a circle of spruce wood to provide it from running. After at least a 12-day maturing (during which the cheese is scrubbed daily with salted water), the Mont d’Or terminates its ripening process in a slightly smaller spruce box that gives it its wrinkled crust as a nod to the mountain it took its name from.

But these many specificities do not prevent producers from delivering (on average) 5,500 tonnes of Mont d’Or each year.