The origin of this cheese is unknown, but in 774 it made its first mark on history thanks to Charlemagne who, on tasting it, is believed to have said: ?I have just discovered one of the most delicious delicacies?. Following in the footsteps of Charlemagne, many crowned heads later succumbed to this refined delicacy. In around 999, Robert II the Pious (son of Hugues Capet) enjoyed it very regularly, Blanche of Navarre sent it to Philippe Auguste, Louis XIV introduced it to the Court of France (every week, fifty cars left Meaux to deliver to Versailles, Paris and Saint Germain) and Louis XVI has been said to owe his arrest, when escaping to Varennes, to a mere stop-off in Claye-Souilly to sample some brie.
During the Revolution, this cheese was a culinary symbol of equality, enjoyed by both rich and poor alike. The real crowning moment, though, came in 1815, during the Congress of Vienna, when, having redefined the boundaries inherited from Napoleon I, a cheese tasting event was organised and the brie was voted the "King of Cheeses and the Cheese of Kings".
Nowadays, Brie de Meaux is produced in accordance with the stipulations of the charter regulating Appellations d'origine contrôlée (controlled terms of origin). With a diameter of around 8 inches, this soft cheese has a fuzzy white bloomy rind and is made exclusively from unpasteurised cow's milk. Brie is produced from curdled milk (obtained by applying pressure to unpasteurised milk) which is heated to a temperature lower than 37 degrees, then poured into a mould. It is cast in the traditional way, by hand, using a "pelle à brie", a large skimming ladle. The cheeses are then drained, salted and placed in cellars to ripen for a minimum of four weeks, after which time brie is the perfect accompaniment to Givry or Rouilly Bourgueil wine.
Nowadays, the area where Brie de Meaux is produced stretches over the whole of the east of the Paris Basin.© Corbis / age fotostock
Brie de Maux takes its name from the town where it is produced.© Tongro Image Stock - age fotostock
Brie de Meaux was given AOC status (controlled designation of origin) on 18th August, 1980.© ImageSource/ Age Fotostock
It takes 25 litres of milk and a lot of know-how to make one single cheese.© Riou / age fotostock
Brie de Meaux goes well with many different wines, including Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, Saint Emilion, and Givry.© Christian Kargl - age fotostock