Paris people

Meet Mr. cheese

Don’t trust appearances. Somehow, yes, Yves Cremmer is leading a secluded life, because he’s working at night, in Rungis, the biggest food market of the world. It’s only a stone’s throw away from Paris, 13 kilometres south of Notre Dame cathedral, but it’s another world though.

Looking like a cliché

Imagine this: the working day at Rungis starts at 2, 3, 4 in the morning, depending on whether you sell fish, meat, cheese, vegetables or flowers. Cremmer is a wholesale cheese trader and the kind of guy who really, really loves his profession. On my visit to Rungis, I stopped at his shop to talk to him and you hardly can imagine anyone looking more like the cliché of a Frenchman. He could have just walked out of an Asterix comic.

I wondered what kind of cheese he was displaying there: bluish blocks of cheese that I’d never seen before. Mr. Cremmer explained that this was the Bleu de Termignon from Savoy, actually a rare cheese and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed not to know it. (David Lebovitz also discovered the Bleu de Termignon only recently.)

Go down on your knees

There are only three or four producers of this cheese left. And Mr. Cremmer would never, ever sell all his stock of Bleu de Termignon to just one person or restaurant. You could go down on your knees, but he would only give you one block. Why withhold the Bleu de Termignon from somebody else who could discover it? I told you, Mr. Cremmer is a bit crazy about his cheese.

Mr. Kremmer told me all about the Bleu de Termignon: there are only few herds in the French Alps close to the village Termignon grazing on the mountain pastures of the Savoy at 2500 meters during the summer months, about sixty cows all together (vaches savoyardes and abondance), munching grass and – believe it or not – even flowers. “There is not such a fauna anywhere else”, Mr. Kremmer said.

The lovely taste of mold

Together with the plants comes a mold, which you can find in the milk afterwards. The mold therefore is natural and isn’t, as often with blue cheese, from being inoculated. “The cheese becomes blue by oxidation”, Mr. Cremmer explains.

I’ll spare you the details, but just think, next time, when you’re buying cheese, about people like Mr. Cremmer. Without him and his hard working colleagues at Rungis the poshest restaurants in the world would just be without cheese. At least without le Bleu de Tremignon. What a shame.Photos:
The Bleu de Termignon