Distinct French cheeses to try

During your time at the culinary academy, you may have learned that while France is known for many things, one of its finest products is cheese. Sometimes served as its own course during meals, cheese in this part of the world often lives by the motto, "The stinkier the better."  Although lovingly referred to as having a "barnyard" smell when mature, these five unpasteurized cheeses will leave your mouth watering and your nose interested.

One of the most famous "bleu" cheeses,  Roquefort is said to have come into existence when a young man left behind sheep's cheese to chase a shepherdess. When he returned, a layer of mold had formed and the tart cheese became a well-known product of the Aveyron region.

Aged for five months in cellars, this tangy cheese has quite the bite. Semi-soft and distinctly pungent, Roquefort is a sharp staple of French cuisine and is used in culinary school recipes like salad and dressings.

Camembert de Normandie
A northern cheese often confused with Brie, Camembert de Normandie was originally created in 1971. A small wheel of this selection has many stages of aging. A hard, white rind with a simple-tasting interior yields to a soft rind and a distinct, runny center the longer it is left to mature. Leaving Camembert alone and uncut leads to a more aromatic flavor.

Produced in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, this cheese has been around since the Middle Ages. Made from crude cow's milk, Munster is a tangy cheese with a hint of cumin. A full-bodied cheese, the taste is sharp, but not overwhelmingly strong.

Vieux Lille
A three-month brining process turn Maroilles into Vieux Lille. A product of the northern tip of France, this cheese is sometimes referred to as "Old Stinker." Not for the faint of heart, this traditionally soft cheese made from raw cow's milk has a reddish-pink rind packed with flavor and is 45 percent fat!

Époisses is deemed the most pungent of French cheeses. After a bath in the Burgundy region's brandy, the cheese is aged for six weeks before it is sold on the market.  A soft, runny cheese with a signature, orange-patterned rind, Époisses mixes salty with spicy.

A delicate cheese made by only four companies in France, the flavor of Époisses requires a certain balance of healthy bacteria that lend the cheese its original flavor, according to the New York Times. Use your knowledge of baking and pastry arts to pair Époisses with something sweet to offset the strong flavor.

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