Great Moments in Cheese History

Even the most extraordinary figures in world history were mere mortals, who everyday took sustenance, as we all must. What follows is the true account of one such legendary figure and his encounter with some compressed curds.

Today he is regarded not only as the founding father of both French and German monarchies, but also as the father of Europe: his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Romans, and the Carolingian renaissance encouraged the formation of a common European identity. King Charlemagne lived from 742 until 814, considered kind, yet fiercely defensive of his family and Empire, there is much to admire, especially his discerning pallet.

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The following excerpt was taken from a biography of Charlemagne written by a monk at Saint Gall monastery in the late 9th century. (aprox. 865 A.D.):

Charlemagne was traveling and stopped at a bishop’s residence at dinnertime. “Now on that day, being the sixth day of the week, he was not willing to eat the flesh of beast or bird. The bishop, being by reason of the nature of the place unable to procure fish immediately, ordered some excellent cheese, white with fat, to be placed before him. Charles….. required nothing else, but taking up his knife and throwing away the mold, which seemed to him abominable, he ate the white of the cheese. Then the bishop, who was standing nearby like a servant, drew close and said ‘Why do you do that, lord Emperor? You are throwing away the best part.’ On the persuasion of the bishop, Charles….. put a piece of the mold in his mouth and slowly ate it and swallowed it like butter. Then, approving the bishop’s advice, he said ‘Very true, my good host,’ and he added, ‘Be sure to send me every year two cartloads of such cheeses.’”

Both lovers of Brie and Roquefort cheese claim the story is about their favorite cheese, but it was probably Roquefort cheese.

At Artisanal we consider it to be an excellent account of the first wholesale cheese order.

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Spread the curd!
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