The smelliest cheese you’re ever likely to meet
This may be the stinkiest cheese I have ever laid my nose on. After wrapping the Venaco Fior di Pecura like a present in that kids’ birthday game called “Pass The Parcel” where when the music stops, the child holding the package gets to take a layer of wrapping off, I could still catch a whiff of its pungent odour whenever I opened the fridge door. If you think I just wasn’t rigorous about the wrappings, here they are: first I wrapped it in grease-proof paper, then aluminium foil, then I put all that in a plastic bag, then I placed the three-layer bound cheese in a tightly sealed Tupperware container. This is not a cheese to be messed with! Now, I thought that Munster from the Alsace region was pretty smelly, but it smells like a rose compared to Fior di Pecura!
All about Fior di Pecura cheese
Venaco Fior di Pecura is a cheese from the island of Corsica that is made with raw sheep milk. The Venaco part of the name shows that it comes from the area of the same name in the mountainous region of central Corsica. There is a long tradition of farming sheep and goats in Corsica, which makes sense given its incredibly steep terrain. Cows would probably fall off the sides of the mountains, unless they had legs on one side of their body shorter than those on the other, plus the sheep and goats are able to forage on the wild plants and grasses that grow in the area.
The cheese has a washed rind, which is the reason it is so delightfully smelly. Corsican cheeses are famous for this characteristic. If you have ever read Asterix in Corsica, you will have found this out already. The moist cheese is washed in a lightly salted brine solution before it is matured for a few months. The washing promotes bacteria to start growing and working to produce the orange crust and give the cheese its particular taste, and creaminess. It also means that the cheese smells very strongly because of those tiny bacteria working hard to make the Fior di Pecura taste so good. Don’t fear the bacteria or the smell though; if you make it past that first smell assault, you’re in for a treat. The taste of Venaco cheese is quite strong and nutty, but nowhere near as strong as its smell suggests it will be. As this cheese matures, it gets creamier and stronger tasting. The one you see in the photos above is at its creamiest (and smelliest!).
This cheese come from my favourite cheese shop in my village 365 Formages. I haven’t tasted all 365 of them, but I’m slowly working my way through them!
Travel Photo Of The Week
I am very ashamed to admit that I haven’t yet been to Corsica, even though it’s only a 3 hour ferry ride from where I live and on a clear day you can even see it. It’s one of those places that we think we’ll go to “next year”, and then we end up going somewhere else. I have been told that it is incredibly beautiful. One of these days we’ll go. Maybe next year. So, instead, here’s a photo from Sardinia, which is the Italian island just South of French Corsica. Their cultures probably have more in common than they do with the countries that lay claim to them, so I think it’s a valid choice for a photo for Venaco cheese!
By Lisa Watson