Choosing, Storing, and Serving Cheese

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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It has always been a challenge to choose a good cheese, as Charlemagne’s instructor admitted. A late medieval compendium of maxims and recipes for the middle-class household, known as Le Ménagier de Paris, includes this formula “To recognize good cheese”:

Not at all white like Helen,
Nor weeping, like Magdalene.
Not Argus, but completely blind,
And heavy, like a buffalo.
Let it rebel against the thumb,
And have an old moth-eaten coat.
Without eyes, without tears, not at all white,
Moth-eaten, rebellious, of good weight.