Now French cheese in made by numbers - discovers James Marston

Boris for PM, Chinese inflation falling, EU awarded Nobel Peace Prize, Scottish independence –it’s all been happening.

Though I don’t mind if Scotland becomes independent I am slightly bemused as to why the Scots want to end the world’s most successful political and economic and monetary union in history.

Anyway, we keep being told it’s up to them and here in England we have no vote on this subject of national importance even though the UK is our country as well so I shan’t waste my breath.

Instead, dear readers, I shall talk about cows.

I was in France over the weekend eating and drinking in the Alps. Indeed when I tried to climb one I had eaten so well at lunch I had to have a sit down and breathe deeply instead – of course the altitude didn’t help, nothing to do with cigarettes.


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Anyway during my visit I popped along to a cheese maker – it’s either wine or cheese in France isn’t it? – to try something made in a farm.

I was passing by the door when I spotted a couple of cows munching on “le silage” – it seems the French have stolen our word for silage as well as weekend.

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I asked the farmer – who was somewhat of a raconteur – if he named his cows thinking that life in the alpine pastures would be full of pretty French names like Antoinette, Marie and Jean-Paul.

“Ah non” he said “zey ave numbers, here we ave number 43 and 47”

Monsieur went on to describe how his cows were very happy because they are milked twice a day, are free range pasture-wise – as long as they don’t slip off the alp – and make nice cheese which is known the world over though difficult to buy here because of EU hygiene regulations which rarely trouble the French.

I said, as I put my hand in my pocket and bought a Reblouchon, “Can I use it for cooking?”

“Ah yes but not on, ow you say, Pot Noodle zat you Anglais eat.”

“Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once” I replied before pointing out that a Pot Noodle is just as much a regional food – especially the beef curry version as it has Indian roots and, I hope he noted, is exportable, travels well and doesn’t stink out your suitcase.

I wonder what the French is for raconteur.

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