Maroilles cheese is a soft, cow’s milk cheese made in the north of France. It has benefited from protected designation of origin status since 1996 at the European level, and since 1976 at the French national level. Named for the small town of the same name in the north of France, the cheese is strongly associated with northern France, and was even featured prominently in the popular French film “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” (“welcome to the Ch’tis’” – a local name of people for the most northern part of France) after which demand for the cheese rose considerably.
It is commonly said that Maroilles is the finest of the strong cheeses, but one must also follow its origins to better understand the richness of its character. Maroilles distinguishes itself from similar cheeses like Pont l’évêque by its odor, taste and very specific consistency, all of which can only be obtained in its region of production, known as Thiérache, the only area in the world where it may be produced.
Starting as early as the 7th century, the monks of the abbey in the village of Maroilles have been producing cheese from area cows. In the 11th century, due to the success of the monks’ cheese, the production was extended to neighboring villages. Then, as now, the cheese production process takes between one and four months, and much of the rest of the process has remained the same. Meaning that one can imagine the cheese produced here in the Middle Ages having a similar taste to the cheese you can enjoy today.
The color of the crust is orange and slightly striped, with hints of warm milk and hazelnut. The interior of the cheese is soft and is said to almost melt in your mouth like butter. The cheese is also known for its strong odor but subtle, almost sweet taste in the mouth.