After arriving home from work, I like to tide myself over until dinner with a snack. As I was eating some excellent Camembert—appellation d’origine controllée, unpasteurised and a stranger to refrigeration since I bought it last week—with a glass of red wine this evening, I recalled a story I heard on the radio last weekend.
It was very sad news indeed: after over two hundred years, the days of unpasteurised Camembert may be numbered.
I’m pretty fastidious about hygiene when cooking. Hygiene is about washing your hands so you don’t get fæcal matter in your food, or not preparing your salad with the same knife and board that you just used to cut up some raw pork.
At the same time, I love unpasteurised cheeses, and I don’t even keep them in the fridge. They keep just fine, and they taste better that way.
Hygiene isn’t the same thing as ensuring that cheese is abiotic. Despite the warnings that pregnant women and people at death’s door shouldn’t eat it, I don’t believe that unpasteurised Camembert is a real health hazard. In fact, I’m convinced by the argument that regular low-level exposure to pathogens is actually healthy. Although I am aware that anecdote is not the singular of data, I’ve eaten some pretty dodgy food—dog-meat kebabs of dubious provenance from a Beijing street vendor, or raw chicken at a specialist restaurant in Fukuoka, for example—and I’ve only had food poisoning once, from some bad shellfish.
It will be a real shame if traditional, unpasteurised Camembert is wiped out by zealous public health authorities. Until then, I’ll enjoy my unpasteurised Camembert even more in the knowledge that each one may be my last.