June 4th

On this day in 1411 King Charles VI of France, granted a monopoly on cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. Not just any cheese, natch, because that would be unfair to the rest of France, which is a nation of cheese makers (who as we all know are blessed), but their own brand of stinky blue cheese, riddled with mould and stuff. From that day if your cheese wasn’t made in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, then you could not call your stinky blue cheese, riddled with mould and stuff, Roquefort.

A cave of cheese beyond your wildest dreams

This has been repeated throughout the ages from the days of yore right up into smoking hot modernity. In 1925 Roquefort got France’s first ever Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, which was basically what Chaz had given them back in the day and then in 1961 there was some sort of council meeting in Millau, which is near the special caves of Roquefort (more of those in a minute) called a Tribunal de Grande Instance, where they told everyone that they could use the same method of cheese manufacture if they felt like it, but if they tried to call it Roquefort they would have their goodies cut off. Probably.

So, there we have a little potted history of how special Roquefort is, even though it’s stinky, blue and full of mould. But how do they make it so mouldy? Well, here’s the legend, which is more full of holes than the cheese before they stick mould in it. A little shepherd boy was having a breather in the caves when he saw a fit lass and thought “I’ll have me some of that” and he went off to follow her, leaving his bread and cheese behind. So far, so plausible if dull and uninspired. Then, we are expected to believe that he didn’t go back to the cave for “a couple of months”. What now?! I mean, yes, one could get struck by a bit of a coup de foudre, but what was he doing for a couple of months? What about the sheep? And why didn’t some other animal or something happen into the cave and go “Mmm! Cheese! I’ll have me some of that!” But no. Allegedly the little shepherd boy went back there a couple of months later and there was his cheese gone all mouldy. Rather than be put off by it, he was apparently so hungry that he decided to eat it and upon eating it he  was all “Well, bugger me sideways with my shepherd’s crook, that sure is tasty!” It’s actually more likely that he mounted a sheep, entered it into a rodeo and then stuck a chicken feather up his arse and flew to Paris.

But, however the whole thing started, there is a long history of cheese making in that region. Pliny the Eldermentioned it in AD 79 (his

They call it blue, but yes, you're right, it's green

words were along the lines of “For something so minging to look at, it tastes pretty good, but when it comes to a nice snack I prefer wolf nipple chips“) and archaeologists have found prehistoric cheese colanders in the region.  How do they make it. Well there’s something in the caves around Roquefort-sur-Soulzon that produces the specific type of mould that gives the cheese its taste. Back in the day they’d put bread in the caves until it moulded up good and proper, then reduce it to powder and stick it into holes they’d made in the cheese and then leave the cheese in the caves until it was good and ripe. These days they can make the mould in laboratories if they want and they tend to inject it using aerosols. None of it sounds particularly pleasant, but the aerosol thing makes me think of cheese in a can, which is even less appetising than blue cheese (you might have guessed by now, I’m not a big fan).

And there it is. You’re left with a nice crumbly white, ewe’s cheese that’s full of mould and rather salty and well-liked by those who like that sort of thing. The French do; it’s their second favourite cheese after Comté which is not blue.

Today is the birthday of Russell Brand.

Brand is a bit like Marmite. Those who love him love him. Those who hate him need to get over themselves. I do understand, well sort of. There was a time when I thought I hated Marmite, but one day I found out that Twiglets– which I love – are basically a wheat based snack

Rusty Rockets in the flesh

covered in Marmite, so I did in fact love Marmite.

I didn’t have a Damascene conversion about Mr Brand. I found  him hilarious from the get-go and if anything find him even more hilarious now. I think that his shift into the world of movies may be a mistake, but he’s hard to touch as a stand up. The man is funny. He is very, very funny, and despite his rat-like teeth, he is also quite attractive in an “I know I’ll feel dirty if I go there, but I can always have a shower afterwards” kind of a way.

He’s a Victorian urchin, mixed with a terrible rogue, mixed with a filthy horndog, mixed with a raconteur of rare erudition and wit, mixed with … he’s funny, he speaks all cockney, he used to be a smackhead, he isn’t now, he used to be led by his cock, but now he’s apparently found true love with Katy Perry.  And he supports West Ham, which shows that the man knows all about suffering.

If you’ve never seen him do stand up watch the video. I love him and I’m happy to wish him a well happy birthday.



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