Despatches from Camembert

This! This really is the village of Camembert. It exists and it is the origin of the cheese. It is picturesque but small these days containing a church, a carpark with two charge stations for electric cars, a museum to honour Camembert cheese that has limited opening hours and a tourist shop. And some houses, but not many.

The tourist shop sells cheeses and I am not sure that they were much dearer than the same local brands at the Carrefour supermarket in nearby Vimoutiers. European cheeses are so very good. And it is interesting that most of the local market appears to be supplied by small, local producers. We would call these artisan or boutique producers at home and pay a huge premium for their products. Our mass market, such as it is in little New Zealand, is supplied by an indistinct, pretty average range of cheese, most of which comes through Fonterra, our near monopoly dairy company.

At the crossroads, leading up to Camembert, there is an obelisk commemorating Madame Harel, or Mrs Camembert as some may call her now. That is a pretty major legacy to leave.

Mme Harel’s obelisk faces but in no way equals the startling rendition of Christ. We have seen many other statues of both Christ and the Virgin Mary in this area, reminding us that this is a Roman Catholic country. But few statues equal the grandeur and prominence of that in little Camembert.

I like travelling with Mark because he is observant so of course he spotted the bees congregating around the nether regions. What is more, be cast his eyes around the base until he found a dead bee, in order that he could determine that these are small, dark French bees of a sort we do not appear to have in New Zealand.

The roses were finished last week in Italy, still blooming beautifully in Normandie this week and we may even catch them at their peak in England where we cross to today. We saw a most interesting contemporary French garden near Rouen and a not so great garden near here, but more on gardens later. Our arrival in Camembert on Wednesday was, apparently, the hottest June day since 1945. 38 degrees Celsius. That is very, very hot. We are not expecting a repetition in England.


7 thoughts on “Despatches from Camembert

  1. Catiez

    What a fabulous trip your both enjoying , Italy is a beautiful place in many ways greatest Statues I’ve ever seen…

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Thank you, Pat. The garden stuff needs to percolate more in the brain before I have enough clarity of thought to write about it.

  2. Kerry Hand

    Kiwis are getting much much better and making choices. But the corporates still prefer to produce commodity foods. I once saw a Kiwi cheesemaker say Camembert was the same as Brie. !! and !! I am sure that is nearly true, but only if you are operating from a 10 line typed recipe – and forgetting little things like the different soils, different herds, and different foliage.

    1. Patricia Colmore-Williams

      We are lucky up here in the Bay of Islands we have the Oromahoe Cheese family selling from their family business (at Oromahoe of course!) . Now that you’ve mentioned Fonterra I must ask Oromahoe Cheese who their dairy suppliers are. Loving your posts.

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