December 13, 2011


My introduction to the cheese the North is famous for, Maroilles, was at the very beginning of my relationship with FBF. Because he’s French, I met pretty much his entire family (mom, sister, sister’s boyfriend, and aunt) within two weeks of meeting him.

It was a big family dinner, and as such I was served an appero (cocktail), an entré (appetizer), a plat (main dish), fromage (cheese), and then a dessert.

Wanting to impress, I made sure to taste everything that was served (as long as it was vegetarian).

When it came time to the cheese course, La Soeur asked me, “as-tu déjà gouté du maroilles?” (Have you already tried maroilles?)

I had not. After admitting to not having heard of it before, she raced off to the kitchen to find one of the smelliest cheeses I have still ever smelt. The rest of the family refused to try it, but hoping to make a good impression, I cut off a small slice.

I felt very much as Kad Merad’s character in Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis does after his first taste of the stuff when he says, “oh c’est aussi fort une fois que c’est dans l’interior?” (Oh, it’s still this strong once in the mouth?)

It was terrible. I said I didn’t like it more with my facial expression than with my words, and everybody had a good laugh. As it turned out, there was a reason no one in the family wanted a slice of the stuff.

What they had neglected to tell me is that to really enjoy maroilles, you’re supposed to cook it first. Melted maroilles is super delicious and tastes completely different from fresh-from-the-refrigerator maroilles.

I'm pretty sure La Soeur took advantage of my lack of Nordist knowledge to get me to eat cold maroilles in order to see how I took a joke. I think I took it pretty well.

A tarte au maroilles, complete with frites and a salad.
This one's from Les Compagnons de la Grappe, and it was heavenly.

I haven't let eating cold maroilles ruin this delicious cheese for me forever. I’ve now had many tartes au maroilles (a regional specialty of melted maroilles, pastry, and various other ingredients such as milk, eggs, cream, etc) with each one being a delight for my taste buds.


  1. funny bizutage :) True story -- my nanny's husband opened their fridge this morning while I was there and I nearly puked. The stench of Maroilles filled the air faster than a dirty diaper. That's one way to wake you up on a difficult dark morning.

  2. Hmm I have tried some stinky cheeses in my time. My first meal with the bf's family involved tocino (a.k.a. lard) spread on bread. Yep...

  3. Ahaha! Yes, Frenchmen can't resist family introductions within the first month of courtship! That's one that I still can't used to!

    When my ex broke things off and I mumbled that we had intertwined our families and it's going to be difficult for everyone, he shrugged his shoulders and said ça va, ça arrive. I always wonder if it just means less to them...I still haven't gotten to the bottom of this great mystery!

  4. I've never heard of Maroiles. I don't know how popular it is down here do I'll have to have a look.
    And yeah, I think you handled that joke pretty well :-)

  5. Amber: Oh jeez. It really is poignant, but worth it once melted down!

    Kaley: Lard? Seriously? Did you eat it? There were times when I was especially glad to be a vegetarian in France, and that probably would have been once of them.

    Coquine: It's very intimidating to be introduce so quickly, but they are all just so committed. Thus far I haven't had to break up with a Frenchmen, but I think I'd be really sad to loose not only him but also his family. They've become a second family to me so I can only imagine how difficult it was for you.
    We should compare notes to see if it really is just less of a big deal to them than it is to us. Maybe it's because we go away after hs and they tend to stay in the same place as their parents?

    Sara Louise: It's very Northern, but ever since the movie about us apparently the cheese has gained popularity outside of our region (mostly because people want to try it, I think). Be sure to heat it up before you eat it! And thanks :)

  6. another french cheese I need to try =) and maybe my cheese guy will be impressed now that I can actually request something instead of just pointing to a big tomme

  7. That's a great story ! I didn't remember you had tasted that "fresh" (from the refrigerator) Maroilles.
    Sure I was kidding you, as Sara Louise said : "you handled the joke very well".
    That would have be so funny if your parents had tasted it when they came !


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