Professor hosts cheese-tasting party

Lanois' French 120 students were instructed to rate each chees from hir or her favorite flavor to least at Lanois' French cheese tasting party. Photo by Mary Moates

On April 13, associate professor of French Dr. Elisabeth Lanois hosted a cheese-tasting party for her French students at the House in the Woods on the Maryville College campus.

Along with 13 different types of cheese, Lanois provided French baguette slices so her students could experience the art of eating French cheese, or “les fromages.”

“I enjoy exposing everyone to this special part of French cuisine,” Lanois said. “There are goat, sheep and cow cheeses from France here today.”

Along the sampling table, each variety of cheese was labeled specifically with its name.

Students from Lanois’ French 120 class would be familiar with each name, having studied cheese in relation to French culture and specific regions of France throughout the semester.

Their assignment for the party was to rate the French cheeses, from the best in flavor to the least.

“I throw this party so students get to know all regions of France,” Lanois said. “Each cheese comes from a different region, so they can get to know each one by their individual cheese.”

Lanois ordered the selection of French cheeses from www.fromage.com, which specializes in imported French cuisine.

Students from her French 120 classes and intermediate-level French class were invited to the event and encouraged to bring friends to sample the exotic cheeses.

International students from France also showed up to the affair.

“Asking what [is] your favorite cheese is the hardest thing to ask a Frenchman,” said Jawad Lamraoui, an international student from southern France.

Lamraoui said his favorite cheeses included Camembert, Comte and Boursin.

“How do you pick your favorite cheese?” Lanois asked rhetorically. “My favorite, though, is Roquefort.”

Roquefort cheese is a sheep’s cheese.

The ripening of the cheese takes place in the naturally damp, aired caves found under the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, which Lanois and family will soon be visiting on her next trip abroad.

“My favorite is the Boursin,” said French student and history major Shelby Gunn.

Both Gunn and psychology major Jenny Carter share a hatred for Lanois’ favorite, Roquerfort, which is a type of bleu cheese.

“But I love the Brie,” Carter said. “And Camembert’s interesting. Its smell reminds me of the ocean.”

Not of all of Lanois’ students were as adventurous.

“I liked tasting the cheeses, but honestly I couldn’t push myself to try the exotic ones,” said French student and business major Michelle Foulke. “I’m afraid to say I went back to the plain cheddar slices several times.”

Lanois also provided three different selections of cake for those who did not have the desire to taste the French cheeses.

“The cake was amazing,” said Foulke. “I got slices from two of them and almost went for seconds.”

Camembert, a popular cheese among Lanois' French students, comes from only five departments in Normandie, France, Oussau-Iraty comes from the Western Pyrenees of France. Photo by Mary Moates

French students were appreciative of the opportunity to experience a piece of French culture through the sampling of the imported cheeses.

“It was fun to try to pronounce the names of the cheeses and then taste [them],” said Caitlin Campbell, a theatre studies major and French minor who will be studying abroad in Chambery, France, this summer. “While we were there, we all talked about languages, French films and travel.”

“I thought the idea was awesome, and I really enjoyed experiencing a part of French culture,” said Gunn. “Lanois always brings the party.”

The cheese tasting party was well received overall and enjoyed by French and non-French students alike.

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