Our son has been to Munich with his school class and one of the activities while there was a visit to a bio dynamic, all purpose farm. On site there also was a farmers’ market, so he naturally went over to see if there was any cheese gems (OstePerler) for dad. He landed on a Belgian bloomy rind cheese called Le Léger de Lathuy. An exciting choice since I have no “relation” to Belgian cheese other than those coming from the area around the town of Herve. Stinkers as they are, not everyone find them as attractive as I do. Even though we’re talking about quite a different style of cheese this Le Léger de Lathuy may also be regarded as, if not special, very odd.
Somehing odd with this Le Léger de Lathuy
Of course, when you are in to cheese as I am, surprises do occur from time to time. Especially if someone else has bought a cheese for me, or I do it myself without tasting beforehand. This was such a cheese. Made of organic, raw milk, so nothing wrong with that. And it looked like you would expect a bloomy rind cheese to look. But when I cut the first small wedge the rind appeared very hard as if it has been dried. But there was nothing wrong with the wrapping. Then it was the paste, sort of glassy or glue coloured, very pale. Texture very gooey, almost like a bouncy ball. To finalize the whole thing I found it rather tasteless, only somewhat mushroomy, naturally.
I have of course googled Le Léger de Lathuy and found what it is that makes the cheese look so glassy. It’s the fat, or rather lack of fat. There are some strange rules for declaring fat content in cheese, or at least there used to be, not so sure they’re so strict anymore. But fat content in cheese has to be declared as a percentage of dry matter, not total weight. This cheese has 25 per cent fat in the dry matter, or 12 per cent of the total weight. That makes it a very lean cheese. I do not know if it is quite comparable, but Parmigiano Reggiano, made from partly skimmed milk has 43 per cent fat in dry matter and 29 per cent of total weight. This is a hard cheese, though, But parmigiano Reggiano I suppose appears rather dry and low in fat. Normally fat gives a bit of juicyness.
I boast that in my opinion all cheeses are good. I would never say this cheese does not taste well. I will limit myself to saying that it is an odd cheese. Most of my working life I have been occupied with food and drink, not necessarily within industries where fat has mattered, but where that was a concern, we always said the taste is in the fat. If nothing else, this cheese proves it.