Because of France's stringent food-related rules — like how Champagne is really only Champagne if it comes from a specific region of France — some farmers are just calling it quits, so the legit fromage may be nothing but a faint memory in the coming years.
According to Condé Nast Traveler, farmers that are aiming for a PDO stamp, which lets consumers know they're getting the real deal, Camembert "must be made with unfiltered raw milk from a cow in the Normandy province that's fed solely on local grass and hay, have a fat content of at least 38%, and be hand-ladled in four layers." Because the production involves using unpasteurized milk, real PDO-stamped Camembert is actually banned in the United States, so anyone picking up a wheel of the good stuff stateside may actually be getting something else entirely.
Illustrating that point, Bloomberg reports that just "four out of 360 million wheels of Camembert produced annually (around 1%) are authentic." To bypass the stringent cheese regulations, producers are creating Camembert-adjacent cheeses that are slightly different in terms of flavor, texture, and how the cheesy aroma lingers on diners' tongues after they have a bite. Add counterfeit cheese to the list of clandestine French knockoffs alongside Louis Vuitton handbags and "inspired" bottles of Chanel No. 5.
So, while the faux Camembert available here in the States probably won't be going anywhere, the PDO variety — with a recipe that dates back to 1791 — is sure to become a hot commodity for cheeseheads around the world. Here's hoping that a few hardworking producers are willing to keep the tradition of authentic Camembert alive for future generations, because a world without flaky ham and cheese croissants (Oh, you didn't hear?) just isn't worth living in.
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