A native of the Thiérache region, this cheese originates from the heart of the farmland and meadows, as its name, which refers to the ancient village of Maroilles (Maro Lalo or 'large clearing' in the Gaulish language), indicates.
It was invented in around 960 by the monks of Maroilles abbey and has been popular among many a monarch throughout its history (including Philippe Auguste, Saint Louis, Charles VI, François I and Charles V), which quickly earned it a certain degree of fame.
The manufacturing process begins with the production of a white cheese made from renneted milk. Once it has been salted (using dry salt and/or brine) and removed from the mould, it is left to dry in a ventilated dryer for a week or so, after which time a light natural flora will have started to form on the surface of the white cheese.
It is then brushed and washed and placed in a cellar to mature for 3 to 5 weeks (depending on the size), during which time the rind of the cheese becomes slightly reddish in colour as a result of the maturing ferments.
The area in which Maroilles is produced is strictly-defined, and only cheeses made in the Thiérache region (which consists of several departmental communes of the Aisne and Nord regions) can be called Maroilles.
As an authentic locally-produced product, Maroilles can be found in many regional recipes such as flamiche, rôtie au Maroilles and goyère (a cheese tart). It is also commonly served on a cheeseboard and accompanied by a nice full-bodied red wine, such as Lalande-de-Pomerol, or, as locals prefer, a traditional beer or cider.
For information on Maroilles please contact:
Syndicat des Fabricants et Affineurs du fromage Maroilles (Maroilles Cheese Producers and Refiners Association)
148, Avenue du Général de Gaulle.
02260 La Capelle.
Tel.: +33 (0)3 23 97 57 57.