Unlike many of France’s classic cheeses whose history goes back so many centuries that its origin is unclear, we know exactly who is supposed to have created Camembert.
In 1791, Marie Harel is said to have refined a recipe given to her by a priest from Brie that she was hiding from the authorities. She named the cheese after the town she lived in, in Normandy and created a legend – although there are still those who claim the cheese is much older.
Marie’s cheese was made from raw, unpasteurised milk and today only a small number of cheesemakers still use the same process that legally entitles them to use the rather grand name of Camembert Normandie under the French AOC guidelines (controlled designation of origin).
However there are many excellent Camemberts created using pasteurised milk, even in very traditional Normandy.