Most people understandably don't think there are many rules for eating cheese, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The etiquette pitfalls are actually numerous, varying from deploying the incorrect condiments and slicing the cheese the wrong way.
Eric Charriaux and his business partner Amnon Paldi own Premier Cheese, which supplies cheese to the restaurant and hotel industry, as well as a range of fromageries called La Cave á Fromage. Here Charriaux explains some of the rules the French have when it comes to eating cheese, starting with how you should always have enough for a selection to offer unexpected guests.
According to Charriaux, “Most French people have their own plastic or wooden container with a selection of cheeses that are ready to be eaten, in case of guests. They will be in a good ripe condition, from a market stall, a farm or a cheese monger, who usually only sell local cheeses.” Not only does your range of cheese mark you out as a connoisseur or not, but the point during the meal that you serve them does too, as well as what they are served alongside.
A French host will always serve some cheese with the evening meal. “We tend to eat cheese before the sweet, because having any after dessert is a bit more difficult to enjoy. The host will serve around four cheeses with some baguette, which is eaten with red wine - white wine would be a crime. There are no chutneys, no tomatoes, grapes or apple that goes with it like you have in England. It is a simple mouthful of bread and cheese, not even any butter.”
Now, if your host has gone to such lengths to serve the cheese course in the correct manner, it is only right to enjoy their offerings with the proper etiquette and there are a couple of crucial points to follow, including never, ever cutting the nose (the centre piece) off a triangle brie.
Charriaux says that cutting the nose off the brie is very bad manners. “You should never cut a triangle by the tip, because then someone will only be left with the outer rind and nothing else. That will trigger terrible comments from people around you.
“The other main point to remember is that if there is blue cheese on the board, it has to be eaten last because of the power of the other cheese. If you eat the blue cheese first, it demonstrates that you have a weak palette. The most important thing to know is this though - cheese is something be enjoyed with good friends.” — Daily Mail Online, 2016
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia