As a homesick Scottish girl of simple tastes, one of the foods I missed when I first arrived in France was cheddar (preferably the dyed orange variety). In all of the 365 varieties that France had to offer, nothing could rival the delicious melty goodness of that traditional British staple. I was open to trying new things, but I missed the old.
Careful studying of recipes and intense discussions with friends revealed that the cheese most likely to replace my beloved favourite in the maintaining-a-delicious-flavour-while-not-developing-a-rubbery-texture stakes was Gruyère.
The only problem was where to find it. The French talk about Gruyère a lot. They even mistake it for Emmental when looking for a simile for something that is full of holes. But to find it in the supermarket, you’d have to be pretty lucky. Gruyère is made in Switzerland and in France it’s as elusive as the names of the holders of its country’s bank accounts.
It was only last night, when reading an English language article about tourism in the Jura mountains, that I stumbled across the explanation for the mystery. It turns out that the French used to make Gruyère too, until it fell foul of EU AOC regulation, which ruled that, like champagne in Champagne, true Gruyère could only be made in Switzerland. So what used to be called French Gruyère de _____ now simply goes by the name of the region where it is produced, and it’s staring at you from every supermarket cheese aisle. It’s the flavoursome yellow cheese which is really not bad melted on toast. Called Comté.