Cheese from France has failed to make the top 10 of a new list of the world’s best, with cheese from the Hexagon peaking at 13th place only.
The new list from the website TasteAtlas has ranked the 100 Best Rated
Cheeses in the World according to ratings from its users. TasteAtlas describes itself as “an encyclopaedia of flavours, a world atlas of traditional dishes, local ingredients, and authentic restaurants”. It bases its rankings on user ratings.
This latest list puts the Italian classics of Parmigiano Reggiano, Gorgonzola piccante, and Burrata in the top three places.
Mexican favourite Oaxaca comes in at number five, just after another Italian classic, Grana Padano, and just ahead of two more Italian picks, Stracchino di Crescenza, and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana.
Portugal’s Queijo Serra da Estrela comes in at number eight, while another Italian icon, Pecorino, takes the ninth and tenth spots (with Sardo and Toscano respectively).
French cheese makes an appearance at:
Mont d’Or: 26th
Délice de Bourgogne: 46th
Lastly, Brie de Meaux and Normandy Camembert sit at 90th and 91st place respectively in the ranking.
In response, one cheese customer in a Paris cheese shop joked wryly to BFMTV: “I think the judges were Italian.”
However, the cheese maker offered a more diplomatic response.
Yves Jouquin said: “Parmesan [Parmigiano Reggiano] is a unique cheese. The judgement makes sense because these are good products. Parmesan is one of the emblematic cheeses that one can find on all tables in France, whereas you’re not going to find a French cheese on all tables in Italy.”
Clément Brossault, artisan cheese maker at the Goncourt cheese shop in Paris, said that he was not “shocked” at the ranking and that French cheese makers can still feel proud.
He said: “We know that Italian cheeses are on the rise and are championed by the Italians, who are very proud of their gastronomy. Parmesan is a great cheese, with a great maturing process, and they have emphasised this.
“It's a cooking cheese, whereas [in France] we are perhaps more about cheese platters.”
Mr Brossault said that the lack of prominence of French cheese could also be because of a “lack” of export. He said: “We [in France] consume many cheeses from our country, but when it comes to export, we only sell 4,000 tonnes of comté compared to 40,000 for Parmesan.”
‘Don’t hate us’
This is not the first time that a TasteAtlas ranking has caused a stir in France in recent months.
At the end of 2022, it put the US ahead of France on a list of the “best cuisines in the world”. Italy took the top spot then too.
This led the site to defend its methodology. “Throughout the year, people evaluate these foods (and not entire cuisines) within our database,” it said. “Don’t hate us, we just count the votes.”
Another list published on February 2, the same website ranked the “10 worst-rated dishes in the world”, and put the traditional French sweets, Anis de Flavigny, in 5th place, just ahead of devilled kidneys, calf’s head, and Scottish deep-fried pizza.
It comes just days after the French cheese making industry suffered another blow, when more than 31 types of cheese were recalled across the country due to a fear of listeria.
The cheeses affected came from the Société laitière de Vichy company, which is based in Creuzier-le-Vieux, Allier.