Mimolette and cheese mites

Mimolette and cheese mites

Mimolette is a northern French raw cow’s milk cheese from the Lille area which, unless you get an aged one, can be somewhat bland. It is a cheese related to a good Edam and an aged Gouda.

The orange paste and mottled grey crust is wrapped in a dark greenish wax and the whole cheese, weighing in at about three to four kilograms, is about the shape of a cantaloupe. The flavour can be slightly tangy, smoky with perhaps a hint of grapefruit, some caramel, hazelnuts and a touch of Parmesan. It’s a pleasure to gaze upon — and to eat.

The history of the cheese goes to the days of Louis XIV who was looking for a native French cheese to differentiate it from the popular imported Edam in a time of heightened French nationalism and attempts to nurture French productivity and business.

The vibrant colour comes from the addition of annatto. The wax covering has the defined task of keeping cheese mites in the cheese rather than out. The mites are introduced because they root about and give the cheese its appearance – little “eyes” and tunnels and rind dust – and its distinctive taste. The little gaffers are also found on the leaves of plants and grain as well as on many, many other cheeses.

(So, technically, if you eat cheese, grain or plants you are not a vegetarian.)


Cheese-mited Mimolette, left, and Gouda (Photo: WREats).

In 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned mimolette apparently citing an allergen threat: if it were to be allowed into the U.S., mimolette was required to have only six mites per square inch – which is a simply ridiculous thing to ask.

Cheese mites are everywhere, so eat and enjoy!

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