Day 34-Gourmelin

Good morning everyone!  Another cold and dark winter’s morning, another bloomy rind soft cow’s cheese-I wonder if anyone has ever written that sentence before?  I think I am becoming obsessed with cheese-this may come as no surprise to those who know me.  My daughter told me she bought a ham and cheese sandwich at school-I demanded to know WHAT kind of cheese, then sniffed-derisively when she said “Swiss,” like such a thing really exists.  My husband asked me if he could use some cheese from my stash in dinner last night,”of course,” I responded, “but use that other Gruyère, not the GOOD Gruyère,” like he knew the difference.  I’m heading over the border to the USA this morning to do some Christmas shopping, and I’m also wondering about what type of cheese they have down there-and whether  I can bring it over the border hassle free or not.  This is what I have become.

Today’s cheese is Gourmelin, it’s a pasteurized cow cheese from  France.  Let’s talk about the whole raw milk/unpasteurized versus pasteurized issue for a moment.Health Canada advises pregnant women not to eat soft mould ripened cheese-that means bloomy rind and also blue cheeses if made from raw milk.  Raw milk cheese are supposedly potential carriers of bad  bacteria-specifically  “listeria,” which could harm a growing fetus. Thorough cooking should kill any listeria, but what’s the fun in that?  There certainly are a number of pasteurized bloomy rind cheeses to choose from for the gravid-but please do take note of this.

A Listeria infection in a healthy adult feels like a short-lived flu. Not so for the pregnant who may not develop symptoms until several weeks after exposure-Pregnant women, however, can be hit harder by listeria, in fact, they are more than twenty times more likely  to get listeria.  So that’s the “listeria hysteria” in a nutshell, if you’re knocked up, knock off the raw milk soft and blue cheeses, and just about everything else fun-but don’t fret, it will get you ready for the next 20 buzz kill years of your life anyway.

Now, back to Gourmelin, which is NOT raw milk, and is-thus-perfectly safe for the gravid and those who love them.  I have to admit, it’s been nearly impossible for me to figure out any history on this cheese-for the first time, I am literally stumped.  I went to page 20 in google with no information other that people talking about how it’s yummy and creamy and from France.  It’s actually kind of bizarre-like it’s some under-cover cheese agent, or in a cheese relocation program or something.  Here are the facts I have been able to find, please let me know if you can find any others.  First, Jean Gourmelin was a French surrealist-there is no mention if he is connected to the cheese, but as the lack of information of the cheese is surreal-I wonder!  Second, it isn’t purely a bloomy rind cheese, it’s also listed at times as a soft washed rind cheese, so perhaps it isn’t either, explaining why it doesn’t seem to exist.  Third, this cheese is made in Jurancon, a commune in the Pyrenees Atlantique region of france.  As it is made in a commune, perhaps it has changed its name as many do while joining cults (although I suspect it’s not THAT type of commune.)

My little slice of mystery cheese looks exactly like Chaumes which I reviewed a couple of weeks back-and in fact-perhaps it is. It’s a washed rind with an orangey exterior and a creamy yellow interior, it looks sticky and mooshy and there are faint bubbles in its mysterious inside.  The cheese is pungent with the ammonia-yes!  It’s the soft ripened cheese smell that I adore.

Alright, here goes…hmmm, this is a surprisingly mellow cheese, a little salty, but overall milky and mild with just the faintest whiff of ammonia. It tastes like a walk in the woods-fresh, brisk and faintly like something is rotting-but you don’t really want to know what it is.  The texture is
smooth and creamy-not overly runny like a triple cream, but quite soft and oozy on the palate.  This cheese is a safe bet-both for the pregnant and non-pregnant if you are looking for a mild-yet mysterious cheese.  I like it, but would choose Fleur d’Aunis or Chaumes over it if I had to pick a personal winner in this category.

Gourmelin, I give you a three out of 5, which isn’t really fair-you are actually a yummy little cheese-but I find that lack of information on you both vexing and perplexing-and thus deduct a point from you for that.