The Maroilles cheese: Introduction
The Maroilles cheese is a cow’s milk cheese and contains at least 29% fat. It is a soft cheese with a washed rind, like the Pont de l’évêque and the Munster. Like all cheese and French wines, each of these cheeses has a ‘cru’ or vintage. The Maroilles cheese takes its name from the area in Northern France where the cheese was created. In the Middle-Ages, it was called “the marvellous Maroilles.” This cheese is squared and weighs 800 grams. It should be noted however that today, it is formed in various formats. The Maroilles cheese is matured for four months in a humid cheese cellar, where it is washed with salt water.
Exterior appearance of the Maroilles cheese: glossy, red brick coloured rind
Odour of the Maroilles cheese: Slight aroma of ammonia
Texture of the Maroille cheese: soft
Taste of the Maroilles cheese: developed and strong
History of the Maroilles cheese
The earliest traces of the Maroilles cheese can be found from the 7th Century. An old ordinance “L’Ecrit des Pâturages” told the inhabitants of the villages of Marbaix, Taisnières en Thiérache, Noyelles and Maroilles to convert the milk of their cows into cheese on the the day of Saint Jean Baptiste (24th June) to give to the abbey of Maroille the day of Saint Remy (1st October) which is around 100days later.
In 1960, the monks and the population of Landrecies, the neighbouring town of Maroilles, where formerly there had been a powerful Benedictine abbey, celebrated the 1000th year since the creation of the this ancient cheese. The tradition upholds that the cheese was invented by a monk from this monastery around 960AD. Known in the Middle-Ages as “craquegnon,” it figured as one of the products given to the abbot in payment of the tithe, as is stated in a charter of 1010AD. The fabrication of the cheese saw a large development under Enguerrand, bishop of Cambrai, and the product was given the name it bears today. It was regarded highly by Charles Quint and several other kings of France, of which it was Henri IV who called it “the marvellous Maroilles.” For a long time, the fabrication of the Maroilles cheese was confined to Avesnois, then it moved to Thiérache, before being found on nearly all the market stalls of France. However this cheese does not travel well. It is a while later, after advancements in transport that this cheese was found everywhere. Recently, the Reverend Farther Lelong published ‘Une Celebration de Maroilles’ which tells everything about this renowned cheese.
The Maroilles cheese has been AOC since the decree of the 3rd June 1976 which was modified by the decree of the 4th August 1980.