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Tastebud: Venerable, Imitable, Spreadable Camembert

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

December 10, 2009



Presented to Napoleon III on the inaugural day of the 1855 World’s Fair, Camembert first appeared during the late 19th century in the Norman village of the same name. Bloomy, fruity, and prone to spoilage, Brie-like Camembert stayed a local favorite for decades, until the invention of its signature wooden box and the advent of the railroad could carry the downy wheels to Paris and beyond. So en vogue was the cheese that it became the most copied in the world, prompting the French government to award Normandy-produced Camembert its Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in 1983.

Aside from inspiring imitations, the cheese has also been an unlikely muse for the arts: a limp, sun-melted wheel of Camembert moved Salvador Dali to paint the famously languid timepieces in his Surrealist masterpiece, The Persistence of Memory. According to the MoMA Highlights catalog, the artist went on to describe the watches as “the Camembert of time.”

Usually Camembert is only on the occasional Beard House cheese plate, but tonight’s Beard House chefs, Scott Gottlich and J. Chastain of Dallas, have possibly the most creative use of it that we’ve seen: éclairs bursting with the stuff, along with hot chocolate and chervil on the side.