In the Cheese Kitchen: Chevre, a brief history

by goatlove

Chevre is about as French as you can get, maybe even more French than a baguette (“NON!”  “Oui.”).  “Chevre” means goat in French and is a cheese made from goats’ milk.  How did the goats get to France?  Either Saracens or Moors (folks from the Arabian peninsula and North Africa respectively) swung through western France, the Loire Valley region, in 700 AD.  They brought domesticated goats and cheese making skills with them.  Goat cheeses of the Loire Valley are distinct and have set the standards for goat cheeses elsewhere in the world.

Chevre’s popularity in America is generally attributed to the work of one woman… the infamous Laura Chenel of Laura Chenel’s Chevre.  She started backyard homesteading back in the late 70’s when goats were as hot as skinny jeans and asymmetrical haircuts are today (all the rage).  Laura, quite simply, had a love for goats and found that cheese making was a way to make some bank while doing what she loved (something I’m striving for myself, making bank while doing what I love… now if I could just figure out the “what I love” part)  Her goat cheese business in upstate California exploded in the early 80’s in partial thanks to Alice Waters of Chez Panisse restaurant.

And here we are today with goat cheese readily available in just about any run-of-the-mill grocery store.  Here in down east Maine, goat cheese is such a hot commodity that Garden Side Dairy regularly sells out at markets and in stores.

With thanks to:
http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=NP5011
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/18/dining/18chenel.html
http://www.cheese-france.com/cheese/chevre.htm
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page

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