Roland Barthélemy, the 'potato' of cheeses: “Without animal welfare there can be no quality cheese” -!

Adriana Lima
By Adriana Lima 10 Min Read

If we are talking about cheese, Roland Barthélemy , in the center of the opening image, is a voice more than authorized. Surely his name does not sound so much in our country, but in France this cheesemaker and popularizer is an institution. Raised in a family with a cheese-making tradition, Barthélemy, considered the ‘potato’ of cheese, he is provost of the Guilde de la Fromagerie, an association that brings together the entire sector (ranchers, producers, tuners, sellers and distributors) to promote this food. Taking advantage of the gala that this association held a few weeks ago in our country, organized by Mantequerías Arias, to become members of this International Brotherhood del Queso to various relevant names in the national cheese scene such as Enric Canut, Clara Díez, Juan Manuel Bellver or restaurateurs such as Óscar Velasco and Abel Valverde. Cheese maker, disseminator, tuner, discoverer of other cultures around these tasty wheels, Barthélemy’s life is also linked to to leave the profile of European cheese, to show that there is an afterlife and, also, to continue making highly valued cheeses. In the time we were able to address him, Roland spoke of the importance of Spain, of animal welfare, of the need to recover the ’emptied lands’ and of the incipient culture of vegan cheese, whose response will not please the lovers of this evolutionary process too much. Of subsistence food and a cheese per day How many new cheeses can she end up trying in one year? Roland Barthélemy: The world of cheese is very changeable and my curiosity is infinite. I do not always try new cheeses, but I also discover cheeses that I did not know, but they are very old, but since journalists like to talk about quantities, I think around one cheese a day. We talk about 2019, sure, it was a normal year, but many of these cheeses I try them in the big competitions , and many new cheeses in Latin America and Japan. What do you know about Current Spanish cheese scene? RB: It is a world in full evolution, although it is a global trend, especially for values ​​that are behind the world of cheese making and cheeses and, also, and very important, is the value that is given to milk, especially to that of cow and that of sheep. In Spain I believe that now very good cheeses are being made and that they all have in common the search for the breed of the animal. In any case, I think cheese is a marker social, not only in Spain, especially as a form of consumption. Here a form of consumption is generated that can have different cheeses, very accessible, and which has no gender nor does it have to do with cuisine. Along with cheese, in Spain there is another great marker such as ham and added together they create a multiplying effect in the tasting. I consider that the modern cheese consumption format comes from Spain, of the way of living together over a small bar or in a cafe where people gather to drink a wine, eat something and that is the concept of tapas, which seems extraordinary to me. One of the battles of the future in the sector is that of animal welfare, what do you think about it? RB: Animal welfare is paramount, without animal welfare there cannot be quality cheese. Not only for the animal, but because that well-being is linked to nature and the soil itself. Respect for the environment goes from nature to the herbs and flowers that these animals will end up eating. That will give better milk quality, will be more profitable for the producer and will allow the animal to live in freedom. There must be stables for to protect themselves, but even stables have to do with that animal welfare. They have to go through a management of the space, reserved for the animals, that is comfortable and that allows them to be spacious. Leaving the field, what role does the hotel industry play in the popularization of cheese? RB: The restaurant industry has always used cheese in the kitchen, but more recently, especially in quality restaurants, cheese has become the protagonist directly on the plate. I think that countries like Spain have been pioneers in the use of cheese in the kitchen and that is something beneficial. Is it the cheese consumer a customer who looks more at the type of cheese than the brand? When we go to the market, we do not always look for a brand of cheese, but a type, as can happen with Parmesan or Camembert. Examples where the PDO or the type of product matters more than the manufacturer itself. The consumer is closely linked to the product when it is close to it. When you live in a small town and you know the producer, as can happen with wine or fruit, you are more rooted and look for that detail, but it is also important to understand the PDOs and the big brands. A newly opened Grana Padano wheel When we approach a PDO, we are sure that we are consuming a quality product that is guaranteed by very strict criteria. However, there are cheeses that are not PDO but have a high quality. There the guarantee comes from the name, the fame of the cheese and the producer. In Europe and North America we think of a certain ‘Eurocentrism’ when we think of cheese, believing that in the rest of the world they are not abundant in the same way. Is cheese a western heritage? RB: No, not at all. It is simply a matter of knowledge and ignorance of cheese production in other countries and continents. In fact, cheese is a authentic survival food for many cultures. It is It is made from a mammal, more or less large, and if you do not consume that meat or you cannot drink that milk, you can put that milk in ‘canned’ . Cheese is the first canned food of humanity where we transform a liquid perishable into a not-so-perishable solid. You have mentioned Latin America; Well, there if we talk about Brazil, which is a huge country, you will see that in any town there are families and little farms that live by having a pig, a couple of goats or a couple of sheep and making cheese with them. It also happens in China, India, Africa … Cheese is made all over the world, even in Japan. It must always be clear that cheese is a continuation of the first food that humans receive, which is milk. Also related to the world of animal welfare and new trends, both vegan and vegetarian, are emerging cheese alternatives based on vegetable ‘milk’ . What is your opinion? RB: The answer is simple: I respect him, but that’s not cheese. To end. I tell you a country and you answer me with a cheese that can be used to identify it or that you like: France … RB: A comté, without a doubt. From Spain. RB: Boffard Gran Reserva. If we go to Portugal . RB: El queijo da Estrela . Italy. RB: The spicy gorgonzola. Newsletter de Directo al Paladar Subscribe to receive our recipes, nutrition information and gastronomy news every day. UK. RB: A stilton from the Montgomery cheese dairy. Holland. RB: I would say a gouda from a small producer, a gouda from ‘fermier’ [granjero en francés]. A boerenkaas then … RB: Exactly, yes. And to close: United States. RB: The Rogue River Blue, from the Rogue River Creamery cheese factory in Oregon. [mejor queso del mundo en los World Cheese Awards de 2019]. Pictures | Mantequerías Arias / Guilde des Fromagers / Unsplash En Directo al Paladar | Leaving the city and going to the country to make cheese: reality is more raw than milk Directly to the Paladar | Journey to the cradle of Parmesan: this is how the world’s most famous cheese is made

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