The History of Roquefort Cheese

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Overview

Hailed as the "King of Cheese and the Cheese of Kings," Roquefort is a blue cheese with a creamy texture, a pungent smell and a long and legendary history. Only the sheep's milk cheese aged in caves the around Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, France, can be called Roquefort.

Legend

A hungry shepherd supposedly discovered Roquefort. He left his lunch of ewe's milk curds behind in a cave to pursue a beautiful maiden. When he returned months later, he found the curds had turned into a moldy, but delicious cheese.

Ancient Times

Pliny the Elder praised Roquefort cheese in 79 A.D. He and other Romans loved its flavor and paid high prices to import it. In the 700s, the emperor Charlemagne enjoyed Roquefort at his Christmas feasts.

Middle Ages

The first recorded mention of "Roquefort" cheese occurred in 1070. Roquefort cheese became so popular that Charles VI granted a monopoly on its manufacture to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon in 1411.

20th Century

In 1925, Roquefort became the first cheese to receive the "Appellation d'Origine Controlee" for its high quality. In 1930, Roquefort producers established the "Red Ewe" brand to indicate its authenticity. The packaging features a red sheep symbol.

Recent Developments

In 2009, U.S. officials threatened to place a 300 percent tariff on Roquefort cheese. The proposal, which was dropped in May 2009, was made in retaliation against a European Union ban on U.S. hormone-fed beef.

References

  • Roquefort cheese
  • Roquefort tariff

Who Can Help

  • Roquefort facts and recipes

About this Author

Cameron Delaney is a freelance writer for trade journals and websites and an editor of non-fiction books. As a journalist, Delaney worked for wire services, newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. Delaney's degrees include a bachelor's in journalism from Penn State and a master's in liberal arts from University of Denver.

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