How accurate is this cheese map?

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  • #4296 Reply
    S
    Participant

    Hey everyone! I saw this cheese map the other day and it caught my attention. As a relative newbie when it comes to cheeses, I’d like to know if this map is any good? Recommendations are also very welcome! Thank you! 🙂

    #8233 Reply
    harmo
    Participant

    Hi S,

    Long time with no answer. So I thought I’d try to help.

    Whether this image is accurate is a tough question. Is it accurate enough… well that depends on what you are aiming for.

    I think as an introduction, it’s great. However, do be aware that there’s a lot of cheeses of similar types (possibly with differing names) that may be found across national borders, while different approaches of the same cheese can be very different from one side of a valley to the next. So there’s a lot of grey area in assigning a cheese to a location. A lot of places try to claim ownership of certain cheeses, but they may be contested.

    If I recall correctly, there’s a term called “terroir”, which is a french word that describes the various environmental factors that may give food from a particular area a specific flavour that’s notably different to food produced the same way in another location. This is the key to AOC (and similar) restrictions about calling certain foods by familiar names.

    For example, to be make “true” parmesan, you need to make the cheese using milk from a particular breed of cow, that eats particular pastures found in a particular location, using approved methods. Each aspect there suggests that there’s hard and fast rules about where all the cheeses come from, but the sad fact is that’s not necessarily true.

    That said, if you go to Europe, you’ll find that local cheese mongers will have both local and imported stuff, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be disappointed by the cheeses in the location. However, some local cheeses cannot be bought in the local area because the vast majority of it is exported for higher profits.

    I wouldn’t worry about the accuracy too much, but if you’d like to look into it a little further…. try the book:

    A Field Guide to Cheese, How To Select, Enjoy & Pair The World’s Best Cheeses by Tristan Sicard.

    In the back of the book is a pretty detailed atlas. It does not cover all cheeses and countries, but you’ll find it more than a match for the image you have posted here.

    I hope this helps!
    Harmo.

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