Food Facts & Lore

Brie, King of Cheeses

Believe it or not, Brie is related to Mozzarella, Ricotta, Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese in that it belongs to the soft fresh cheese family. But unlike these delicious cousins, Brie is ripened soft cheese. The rind is the tell-tale sign.  Cheeses are categorized depending on the type of milk used, fat content, moisture content and the length of time allowed for them to ripen.

When speaking of Brie, it is worth mentioning one of the origins of the word “cheese.” An ancient Persian root translates to “something excellent.” How fitting!

Brie’s history dates back to the 8th century, and many a famous historical figure has been charmed by the soft-ripened cheese throughout the ages. So much so that accounts of these encounters made it into recorded history and timeless legends. Take King Henry IV, for example. He became so enamored with Brie upon tasting it in Meaux, France (Brie’s birth home) sometime in the late 1500’s, that his wife the Queen made sure it would be available at home for the pleasure of her dear husband and perhaps, the legend goes, to distract him from his mistresses.

Louis XVI, King of France was smitten as well. In his case we might consider it an obsession, for it is said that even as he escaped from arrest he managed an irresistible detour for wine and Brie. Perhaps he sensed this might be his last meal after all.

But the first notable figure who reportedly fell in love with Brie at first bite was French Emperor Charlemagne. He was visiting the Piory of Reuil en Brie, France, around 774, where the monks had created and perfected the Brie recipe and was so taken by the quality of the cheese that he arranged for it to be delivered to his home, the Castle of Aachen, Germany, on a regular basis.

As for King Philippe-Auguste, France, it is said that in 1217 he had 200 rounds of Brie dispatched to the members of his court for the New Year. This may be the only account of a monarch ever being so generous with Brie.

Brie gained it utmost notoriety following a cheese contest at the request of French diplomat Talleyrand, right in the midst of a Congress session following the fall of the French Empire. What better distraction and means of soothing low spirits than a tableful of cheese? Brie won with ease and was dubbed “the King of Cheeses.”

We cannot help but imagine the look on these hard men’s faces if they tasted our Baked Brie & Bleu! It’s on the DINNER MENU, and it fits every temperament and journey.