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Fancy Cheeses That are Illegal in the US

Camembert de Normandie photo via Culture Trip website

Oh delicious cheese... It really is something isn't it? Aged cheddars, creamy Brie, stinky goat, any and all kinds of cheese are works of art! Especially some of the world's most popular cheeses in France and Italy. However, some don't make their way across American borders. Why?

The FDA’s strict rules on production and imports have ordered a list of strangely unique cheeses, ones that are unpasteurized and usually aged less than 60 days, illegal in the US.

Casu Marzu, meaning 'rotten or putrid cheese' is a traditional cheese made from sheep's milk in Sardinia, Italy. Most Americans would cringe at the sight of live maggots crawling through a wheel of pecorino in their fridge, in Sardinia it's considered normal!

After fermentation, a hole is cut in the top of the cheese and placed outdoors. This is where a species of cheese fly settles inside and lay eggs to produce larvae. The larvae eat the cheese and leave behind excretions of pre-digested fats, proteins, and sugars, the cause of Casu Marzu's distinct flavor.

I don't know about you but I'm getting hungry!

Casu Marzu photo via Culture Trip website

We all know Camembert; the soft, creamy, somewhat stinky slice of bliss found on nearly every cheese platter. What we don't know is this is not the real version! The Camembert de Normandie sold in France is aged less than 60 days, but we have yet to experience this beauty in raw form in the U.S, the one sold in grocery stores and cheese shops is pasteurized.

Camembert de Normandie photo via Culture Trip website

Thirteenth century legends tell a tale of Savoie herdsmen who carried out an incomplete milking of the cows to reduce their taxable production of milk. After the rent was paid to landowners, they went back to re-milk the cows. This resulted in a milk that was rich in fat and used to make Reblochon. Unfortunately, you will not find this semi soft, 50 days aged, raw cheese anywhere in the US! The FDA banned it in 2004 for falling short of the required aging time.

Reblochon photo via Culture Trip website


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