Today’s cheese is Saint Florentin

This isn’t a goat’s cheese but it is a cheese associated with a saint from the Dark Ages.  And what do saints from the Dark Ages mean?  Cheese and miserable martyrdom.  Two popular themes.

I do enjoy a good martyrdom.  Well, I’ll clarify, I enjoy a good historical martyrdom.  I can’t say people killing one another for their beliefs is a particularly edifying act.  So stop it.  OK? Spanish churches and Latin religious art are particularly rich sources of martyrdom art.  I really enjoy statues to dead saints when they are represented as dying but reaching out to the viewer.  Always a relaxing experience.

Traditionally made in Yonne, an area of Burgundy, around Auxerre.

And Saint Florentin, well, he encountered King Crocus of the Vandals who was none to pleased with Florentin’s religion so, to stop his evangelising, pulled out his tongue.  To make doubly sure, Crocus chopped of Florentin’s head in 408 in the town of St Pierre-de-Clages.  That should stop any evangelising.  But perhaps none of this true and Florentin was really a bishop in Sion.

Crocus was hugely influential and was a friend to Roman emperors and supported Constantine the Great’s candidacy as Roman emperor.  Constantine became the first Christian emperor so perhaps Crocus chose not to mention his encounter with Florentin and Florentin’s friend Hilaire, whose martyrdom Crocus also attached with.

Saint-Florentin is a fresh cheese made with unpasteurised cows’ milk.  There is a more traditional version which I have not seen yet which is aged for around two months but the ones I buy tend to be much younger, maybe a month old.  Apparently this cheese is on its last legs and not many people make it anymore, which is a shame, as it’s a rich and indulgent but mild and salty cheese.

Delicate, cannot be man handled without it collapsing into a heavenly creamy paste.  The rind is soft,rumpled and pale yellow and almost slick on the ivory white paste below.  The heart of the paste tends to be soft but slightly resistant to the touch whereas there is a delicious semi liquid layer between this firmer heart and the rind.  When I say firm, it’s not a hard cheese, it’s as firm as a goats cheese.

You don’t cut this cheese you more scoop it onto your bread with a knife and I can imagine it being marvelous wrapped with some leafy fresh herbs in some flatbread and a light, slightly chilled red like a Brouilly.



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