Take the iconic French wheel from the cheeseboard to the table
Photographed by Jenny Bravo
According to well-established legend, camembert was invented in 1791 by Marie Harel of Normandy, France. Harel was taught cheesemaking techniques by a priest from Brie, which perhaps accounts for the similarities between the two popular cheeses. However, the cheesemaking process for camembert results in a denser texture than its French cousin, and wheels of camembert are significantly smaller than traditional brie wheels. There is also the matter of flavor: camembert is famously earthy, while brie is brighter and fruitier. Veritable (true) camembert—Camembert de Normandie PDO—is made in Normandy from unpasteurized cow’s milk, and because it is aged for only 30 days (instead of the 60 required for raw milk cheeses to be imported), it is not available in the US. If you find cheese labeled “Camembert” and “Normandie” in your local market, it has been made with pasteurized milk. This doesn’t mean it won’t be delicious; look for brands such as Le Chatelain, Isigny St. Mère, and Ile de France. Camembert’s unique flavor and luscious texture make it the star of a cheese plate, but it also makes a splash in recipes.