It's not hard to get the Internet riled up these days. For some, it may be about politics. For others, it might be over tipping in restaurants or where to store your ketchup. And for the French, it's about the correct way to cut a wheel of cheese. Obviously.
The French are notoriously très, très serious about their food traditions. But we're sure one French Reddit user wasn't expecting the resulting outrage when he outed his mom's cheese-cutting skills with a photo of the offending cheese and the caption, “The way my mother cuts Camembert," as reported by The Local.
“We’ve guillotined people for less than that,” said one Reddit user in response.
“There’s cause for a loss of nationality there,” another one said.
"I do that too, my family sent me into exile in North America," said another.
What's the big deal, you're probably wondering. It's just cheese. Those crazy French!
But let's consider how closely the French hold Camembert to their national identity and hearts. "Wedges of the iconic cheese, decorated with pictures of French troops in battle no less, were included in soldiers' meals on the front lines of WWI. Camembert is as emblematic of their identity as apple pie is to Americans," explained Jessica Affatato, a cheese expert who trained at the prestigious Cavaniola’s in the Hamptons in NY.
And while she would never tell someone they're eating cheese wrong, there are some general guidelines on the proper way to cut cheese, depending on the shape and consistency, she said. "For a round flat disk, it should be cut like a pie [in triangular wedges] ensuring a similar ratio of rind to interior paste for everyone. While the edge is delicious, let’s be honest, the interior is where the magic happens," she told The Feast.
That's how a round of Camembert should be sliced. For the French, this is non-negotiable. Let us put things into context: Imagine cutting a round pizza pie into irregular sizes, leaving the next person only the crust. See what we mean? Not cool at all.
And while there are specific cutting techniques for different types of cheese, that's the general rule of thumb—try to cut a piece so that everyone gets the same ratio of good stuff. "Firm cheeses (like Comté, Gruyère) are often cut so that everyone gets an end piece with rind. This eliminates waste, as no one wants to be the person to get an end piece, which is mostly rind," said Michael Affatato (Jessica's cousin), owner of The Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, NY.
Not that the rind is a bad thing.
"We were also taught in France that there are only two types of rind which are inedible: wax (Gouda, for instance) and bark (Edel de Cléron, etc). All others can be consumed," he explained, though the rind will definitely alter the taste of the overall cheese.
So the next time you're faced with a wheel of Brie or a wedge of Morbier, follow these guidelines and bon appetit! If you're lucky, no one will start an Internet war over you.
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