De Gaulle’s favourite cheese, Mimolette is the orangest and one of the hardest French table cheeses. Also known as the boule de Lille or vieux hollande, it was made after 1672, when Louis XIV’s finance minister Colbert banned imports of Dutch Edam.
Mimolette has the more pronounced orange colour because of the natural red dye derived from annatto (roucou) seeds added to the paste, which adds more colour than the original dye, carrot juice. Today it’s made in Normandy and the Pays de la Loire as well as Flanders.
Its name comes for mollet, meaning soft, which it is when jeune (aged under 6 months). But Mimolette is most appreciated when it’s piquant and aged and hard to cut, mi-vieille (6—12 months), or vieille (12-18 months), or extra-vieille (or mimolette étuvée) aged over 18 months, when it has a hazelnut flavour.
The lunar-like rind of aged Mimolette is caused by cheese mites (cirons), which are introduced to allow the cheese inside to breathe—but which caused the cheese to be banned in 2013—14 in the United States because the mites were considered an allergen.
They like it ib Lyon, too; there’s even a building designed to look like a Mimolette cheese!
Images by Chris Waits, Javier Lastras, patrick janicek