Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Wednesday Wonderings - Cheddar v Camembert

Posted by Rosie

Should the French be selling more Cheddar?


As I grated cheddar cheese into Tom's wrap for his picnic lunch (he is doing the inter-school cross country run today), I got to thinking about some comments I had seen on the web about how awful it was that France doesn't sell cheddar.  In fact it is available in many supermarkets, albeit in small and quite overpriced packets and sometimes in a somewhat worrying rather orange colour.  But should France be selling more of Britain's favourite cheese, as many people were bemoaning, as well as Stilton, Caerphilly, Crowdie and all the others you can buy "back home"?

Image from BBC
France is very proud of it's national identity and French resistance to change is deeply ingrained.  They have the Académie Française that does it's best to prevent anglicised words slipping into the language although, despite their best efforts, the likes of weekend, camping car, sandwich, stop etc are all used quite happily by the French population.  On the question of food some French believe that their food is the finest in the world and they should not be selling "inferior" produce from around other countries in the (quite possibly) mistaken belief that nothing can be as good as their own.  They also strongly believe in their cultural identity, the likes of camembert et al doing much to retain this.  But is this reticence to sell more cheddar simply because they actually believe their cheeses are unsurpassed and they must retain their cultural identity no matter what or are they worried that if shops begin to sell a wide range of British cheeses, many of which are very different to French cheeses, they will see the people move away from Camembert, Port Salut and Roquefort and enjoy these foreign imports.   I don't know.

What I do believe is that France should not have to sell Cheddar or cheese from any other country if it doesn't want to.  They should have the choice.  In doing so you will always know for sure that you are in a French supermarket as the cheese aisle will always be (mostly) full of French cheeses.  However from an economic position I think they are being very short-sighted in not to be selling something that the vast numbers of tourists and ex-pats would so readily buy and something I believe many French people would enjoy.  We stock up on cheddar when we return from trips to England but wouldn't have to if it was readily available here at a competitive price and where-by we would be putting money directly into the French economy.  

Not selling cheddar may well then be a case of French pride shooting itself in the foot.  Simply refusing to sell something because it is not what you have done in the past or because you think your product is better or because you are worried it will outsell French products does not make for great economic sense.   I do not know if cheddar and the likes would ever outstrip Camembert in French cheese sales but I do reckon sales would do well as more French people discover that a cheddar sandwich, eaten on a weekend trip out in their camping car isn't actually as horrible as they might think!  Stop!!  They might even find Branston pickle tastes good too!

Cheddar and Camembert - should they be sharing shelf space in French shops?

What do you think about this?  Do you miss cheddar when you come to France or do you relish the chance to buy French cheese?

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12 comments :

  1. If you've got a local Lidl store it may well buck the trend. My hubbie is Spanish, and we've got a little place just outside Barcelona. If I wanted to buy cheddar I could find it there in all the different levels of strength that we have here in London, but I'm happy to go with the flow and eat Manchego instead. It's also a good place to find Branston pickle and HP Brown Sauce, without - which no bacon sandwich is ever complete. All the best, Bonny

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    1. Thanks for popping by and commenting Bonnie. I had a bacon sarnie with HP sauce for lunch yesterday LOL

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  2. I am one to embrace the cheeses of the place we are visiting. Funnily enough I have a plate of crackers, camembert and habanero relish here right now!

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    1. The French have no concept of cheese and biscuits ... and what is habanero relish?

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  3. I'm not an ex pat, but wherever I go I like to try regional cheese. When I'm at home I eat English cheese and not much imported stuff. Interesting debate though. Do native French folk like cheddar? #pocolo

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    1. Some French I know screw up their noses at the idea of Cheddar without even trying it! Others try it and like it and others try and and don't like it! There are only a couple of cheeses that are even a bit like Cheddar so it is a very different taste and texture for them.

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  4. Whilst I do moan about the lack of cheddar here (Bavaria's not known for cheese!), I think it might be sacrilege to do so in France, but each to their own! :D

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    1. But I reckon it would sell well if only to expats, and tourists and adventurous French (of which there may not be many in rural Normandy!)

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  5. Love this post! As someone who bemoans the lack of decent cheddar in the US, although I have now found places that sell proper cheddar rather than the oddly processed US stuff (with out a huge price tag attached), this made me smile. I actually prefer French cheese (the cheddar hunt was for hubby and the kids!) and the same shops where I find proper cheddar I also find proper French cheese :) I think that you're right that the French should not have to sell anything they don't want to, but as you say, it is short sighted to not import products that would sell well... Thank you so much for sharing this with #ThePrompt x

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    1. Maybe if the French ate more proper Cheddar, not the plastic processed slices you can get, they might realise they the Brits can, in fact, produce some decent cheeses too!

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  6. I admire France for the way it protects its cultural identity...but as you say introducing cheddar to more shops could be a good business decision. Choice is good, and if the traditional French fromages really are unsurpassed they shouldn't have anything to worry about from the British cheese interlopers! xx #ThePrompt

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