jeudi 15 janvier 2009

Mais c'est un scandale !

A wedge of roquefort, back when it was affordable in America

I have just read something in Le Monde that makes me angry and terribly sad. Showing that it has an impeccable sense of priorities, the US government has announced plans to triple the customs duty on roquefort cheese imports starting on March 23. Even more outrageous is that this huge increase applies only to roquefort, a cheese made from ewe's milk that is produced exclusively in a very precisely defined geographic region in France (see below). Why? To retaliate against the very sensible European ban on hormone-injected beef from the US.

Ostenibly, the tarif is being raised to force Europe to accept our hormone-laden beef. In 1998, the WTO ruled that the European ban on this horrible shit was not backed by science and, when Europe did not immediately open its borders to hormone beef, the US promptly drew up a list of products that would be subject to higher import duties. So after a decade-long impasse, the US has decided to get things moving by targeting roquefort.

The decision was made by Bush appointee Susan Schwab, just days before her mandate comes to an end. Thanks, Susan. You bitch!

The European Commission has indicated it will file a complaint against the US with the WTO.

So all you roqufort lovers out there, enjoy it while you still can. And remember, although they are not really the same at all to real cheese lovers, you can console yourself with different varieties of bleu cheese: bleu des causses, bleu d'Auvergne, forme d'ambert, etc. But save your money. Don't buy roquefort in the US. Soon enough, you'll have enough money to visit France. You'll find roquefort for sale all over France, but if you have time, visit the real Roquefort.

Some information about roquefort and Roquefort:

The region in which the milk used to make this cheese is collected covers a 100-km radius around the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, which is in the French department called the Aveyron. The collection area in fact includes many different French départements (it's more complicated, but think of them as counties): La Lozère, L'Aveyron, Le Tarn, L'Aude, L'Hérault and the Gard. But the cheese is only aged in a specific part of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, within the natural caves of Mont Combalou, where the temperature, soil and natural ventilation combine to give roquefort its inimitable taste, which is also attributed to the particular breeds of sheep whose milk is used (Lacaune,Manech and Basco-Béarnaise), their diet and their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and extreme variations in temperature.

Here's a cheese map of France, which I will try to enlarge. Remember, De Gaulle once remarked that a country with 400 and some odd cheeses was ungovernable. Maybe, but what a great place to run amok.