By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Nothing says national pride quite like a country’s cuisine, and when it comes to great dining, France is definitely Europe’s leader of the pack.
And among the best of l’Hexagone’s tantalizing delicacies is its vast and delicious selection of cheeses.
In fact, France boasts more than 450 varieties of cheeses, grouped into eight categories of les huit familles de fromage, and there are even more variations within each type of cheese.
In 1962, then-French President Charles de Gaulle famously quipped: “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” (“How can you possibly govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?”)
From a financial perspective, the dairy industry is a key driver of the French economy, representing nearly $32 billion in revenues annually, the second-largest sector in the agriculture division.
And last year alone, France sold more than $3.5 billion in cheese to the rest of the world, representing 11.3 percent of all cheese exports worldwide.
But while Mexico is one of the Western Hemisphere’s largest per capita consumers of cheese – at 3.8 kilograms a year per person (compared to 25.9 kilos per year in France) – less than 2 percent of the cheese consumed nationally comes from La Patrie des droits de l’Homme.
To help remedy that situation, and to encourage greater awareness and appreciation for French cheeses in Mexico, the French Dairy Industry National Inter-professional Center (CNIEL) and the European Union have joined forces to organize the Second Annual “Quesos de Europa, Sabor a Francia” (“Cheeses of Europe, Taste of France”) Festival, a multifaceted promotional event that will take place throughout the entire month of November.
The festival, which will be held in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara, will include special French-cheese-based dishes at more than 30 participating restaurants, as well as an array of seminars, workshops, pop-up stands and lectures about cheeses.
This year, the cheeses showcased will be camembert, brie, bleu d’Auvergne, comté, emmental, mimolette and raclette de Savoie.
For a list of participating restaurants and other events, check out the webpage https://quesosdeeuropa.com.