The Chabichou cheese: Introduction
The Chabichou cheese, when made by a farmstead is left to naturally and spontaneously develop its mould, whereas when made by a dairy, the Penicillium is inserted into the cheese. This cheese is in the shape of a truncated cone or a rounded sloped cylinder . The Chabichou cheese measures around 6cm in diameter at the base, 5cm at the top and 6cm in length. It weighs around 100g. The maturing process of the Chabichou cheese lasts 3 weeks in general.
Exterior appearance of the Chabichou cheese: a blueish rind, or grey coloured with age.
Odour of the Chabichou cheese: strongly caprine
Texture of the Chabichou cheese: slightly viscous
History of the Chabichou cheese
The legend dates back to the origin of the word "Chabi" in the 8th century AD. This word derives from "Chebli" which means "goat" in Arabic. The history of Chabichou is ancient and dates back to the arrival of the Arabs (8th century), who introduced the goats into the region. The Saracens abandoned by their fleeing army after the defeat suffered at Poitiers against Charles Martel in 732AD, were banished outside the walls of Poitiers, to the summit of the hill of Montbernage (suburb of Poitiers), where they started making cheeses from the goats milk, which were named "Chabichou." In 1782, in the "Travellers guide to Poitiers and its environs" Charles de Cherge wrote; "We would like to talk about the excellent cheeses of Montbernage ,which are known popularly under the name Chabichou, and enjoy a justifiably merited reputation in the culinary world. "The Chabichou became a sign of recognition for the inhabitants of Poitiers, and an object of identification of a population who share the same origins. Later, this name was used again in 1897 as the title of a bulletin of the "Société Amicale de Vienne," made famous in a sonnet by Emile Bergerat in 1910 and again used in a song dated 1914 relating to the inhabitants of Poitier. This cheese was very popular as shown by the "Rondeau du Chabichou," an extract of Ballades and sonnets, by Emile Bergerat, published in 1910:
The chabichou that one jokes about in vain
It is the spur of the horse: wine
Which the misunderstood don't know how to drink, Ponchon said: it's a pear,
And those who love it, love it with a chauvinism.
Well made, it is more than divine,But how it is scarce! Two out of twenty!
It is like a kingfisher at the fair
It's in the secret of its leavening
The honour of the Poitevin farmer
That he holds on to his ivory flower, verily.
The connoisseur wants that of the Loire
One can pick up the scent from as far away as Louvain.