Cut cheese

Knife skills: life skills

Even before I became aware of an etiquette to cutting cheese, I knew there was a right way and a wrong way. Anyone who would cut the ‘nose’ off a blue cheese, for example, was dead to me.

As a well-brought-up Englishman, I would say nothing whenever this happened. Looks, of course, could have killed.

It was only when I moved to France that I realised I wasn’t alone. People cut cheese in a way that seems fairer – and possibly not just because they fear the icy glare of an anglais.

French food magazines and books often seem to carry features for the uninitiated on how to cut cheese. One book I bought here in Lille – Fromages, by Coralie Ferreira and Aimery Chemin (available on – described it as “indispensable” to know how to do it properly.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a life skill, right up there with how to bandage a wound, how to budget and how to make a bed.

Here’s how Ms Ferreira and Ms Chemin say to cut cheeses that come in parts, such as Beaufort and Comté, then Brie and blue cheeses such as Roquefort.

Cutting cheese Comte, Brie, Roquefort

I was right about not cutting the ‘nose’ off blue cheese!

Round cheeses such as Camembert, cylinders such as Saint-Maure de Touraine and small round cheese such as Rocamadour should be cut like this.

Cutting cheese Camembert, Sainte-Maure, Roquefort

Square cheeses such as the stinky northern favourite Maroilles and pyramids such as Valençay get an altogether different treatment.

Cutting cheese Maroilles, Valencay

What puzzles me, though, is the bottom-right diagram showing how to cut Saint-Nectaire. Cut to the right, it simply says.

I’ll admit I’m baffled. Maybe cheese-cutting knowledge isn’t innate, after all.


Main photo © Irita Antonevica, Pexels

This entry was published on Sat, 25 Apr 2020 at 09:30. It’s filed under Food and wine and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

20 thoughts on “Knife skills: life skills

  1. ah the brie is my cheese my wife region king of cheeses cheese of the kings Vienna 1815. We cut it in quarters from the center inward you, quarts parts and continue slicing from the center in. cheers

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  2. Surely D just says ‘bite’!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting article. Never knew how to slice brie. But how about Neufchâtel ????

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Slice it down the middle? In half? Quarter it? To the right, what does that mean? I’ll ask my friend’s wife here in Normandy, she’s makes cheese. Livarot cheese, she might know…


  5. Very funny and interesting. I too have learned a new skill.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting post with diagrams to ponder on! I was told not to cut the “heart” out of the cheese – presumably the same as the “nose”? I may have made a few gaffes though when visiting extended family in France but they still love me! Especially if the gift I take is British cheese!!

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  7. To the right just sounds like counter-clockwise to me. It seems to be a natural way with a round cheese but I admit I’ve never heard of such a rule. I do agree that there is nothing worse than someone who cuts off the nose of a nice piece of blue. My (French) husband tried it once and I had to teach him cheese etiquette. It’s really just common sense!

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  8. I’ve always been aware of ‘cheese etiquette’ but I love cheese, especially French, so much so that I often throw caution to the wind and just launch in, regardless!

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  9. Thank you for the very helpful diagrams. I must admit that I have not always got it right. And when we are invited to meals by French friends, they always pass me the cheese board first. I daresay I have made a number of faux pas over the years, although I am beginning to get the hang of it! I shall keep revisiting this post.

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