Cheese Label Art

"La Moulis", raw cow's milk cheese from the Pyrenees.

I not usually the sort of person who collects things.  Well, some may argue with that assertion but if you leave aside books and old menus, I don’t collect much.  The one exception is cheese labels.  I have saved the labels from cheeses for since the period when my wife and I lived in France.  I frame and use them for decoration.  I preserve them in albums.  I  use them as additions to journal entries.  I just can’t seem to throw out a  good looking label.

There are several reasons for this compulsion.  First, I am fascinated by the artistry that is put into cheese labels, especially those from Europe.  The variety of designs, the humor  one often finds incorporated in the design, the history, the color, the idyllic vision they present of the farm and cheese making, all these make them visually very compelling.  Much more effort is put into these designs than would seem on the surface to be necessary.  It seems to me that cheese labels have become a kind of folk art in the same sense as were the fruit box labels for the early 20th century in America.

Second is the fact that I attach a certain memory to each cheese I have eaten and therefore to its label.  Whether the cheese in question was part of a special dinner, or a memory from a certain trip abroad or other travel, or just evokes a vivid memory of a particular moment, these labels have somehow become a part of my sentimental make-up.

Here are some examples that I hope will begin to give an idea of the variety that exists.   You will soon be able to find more in my photo album page.  If you come upon any interesting examples, I hope you will send them to me and I will  add them to the album.  Enjoy.

"Tomme de ma Grand'Mere" goat's milk cheese from Poitou Charentes.

"Le Pavin", cow's milk cheese from Auvergne.

"Agour Ossau-Iraty", sheep's milk cheese from the French Basque Countries.

"Raclette de Savoie", raw cow's milk cheese from the French Savoie.

"Bleu de Vercours Sassenage", cow's milk bleu cheese from the Rhone Valley

“Le Capretta Tenerina”, sheep’s milk cheese from Italy.

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