(image copyright 2011 Nona Brooklyn)
The recent piece in the New York Times on affinage has touched off a bit of a food fight in the cheese world. Nona Brooklyn spoke to some cheese world folks, in what is an interesting and informative post that helps to clarify what Affinage really is and who is really qualified to claim the mantle of Affineur for themselves. The most important distinction made is between “Cheese Care” and “Affinage”. As Brad Dubé says:
To really boil it down, there’s cheese care and there’s affinage. The difference is big. The distinction is there and it should be made clearer. The lines between affinage and cheese care are starting to be blurred, and that’s a problem…The new school has taken to calling cheese care ‘affinage,’ but it’s not affinage. Affinage is very different. Real affineurs buy young cheese – cheese that hasn’t yet been aged, and that isn’t ready for consumption – and they age it themselves, to give it a specific set of characteristics that they’re seeking to impart or highlight. Affineurs work directly with producers to select the right wheels of young cheese. They’re not getting cheese that’s already been aged and is ready for the market and then doing something to it.