If you're not used to eating some cheese, just start with a soft cow's milk cheese,
"Brie", "camembert" or "bleu" for example.
As long as you don't keep them for too long in your fridge, they won't smell or have a strong taste. But if you keep them for more than 10 days, their taste will be stronger (and their smell too !).
A strong cheese is still all right, it depends on your own taste.
How to use them ?
Many recipes call for cheese, but a good way to become familiar with French cheese is to enjoy it by itself, as the French do. For lunch or dinner, after the « plat principal », (main dish) have some cheese with bread and a glass of red wine. Take the cheese out the fridge at the beginning of your meal so it's not too cold; this will help bring out the subtle tastes and flavours of each cheese.
Usually in Fance, we eat cheese or yogurt, we don't have both. And when we invite people, we offer only cheese. Yogurt is too informal.
Where to find them ?
In a supermarket, a cheese shop, or at an outdoor market. There are two options in a supermarket : emballé (already packaged) or « à la coupe » (deli-style, where you choose the amount you want). If you choose the « à la coupe » solution, you'll find a much wider range of cheeses. If it's emballé it's in the « rayon libre service » (self service), close to the beurre (butter) and yaourt (yogurt)·
If you want to get a real taste of France, forget the supermarket and go to a « fromagerie », a small shop usually in the city center, which specializes in cheeses. Don't be afraid of the smell or of your French, people will be very nice, just communicate with your hands and they'll do the same !! If you go to a fromagerie, you'll discover many types of cheeses that you'll never find in a supermarket.
Cheese merchants at the market are like little cheese shops, they have excellent cheese but a smaller selection.
How to store them ?
A few days in the fridge (at least one week), you can keep it longer it will only taste and smell stronger!
Look at the shape. We often buy "une pointe de brie", just a part, because a brie is big cheese.
A smaller cheese, so we always buy a whole one. You can't find a "pointe de camembert" it would be too small.
You can also try some tomme like "Saint Marcelin" or "Saint Félicien". They're very common and not too strong. Saint Félicien can be very creamy. They're smaller than "camembert".
"Saint Félicien' is often packaged in a small plastic box, whereas tomme like "Saint Marcellin" can be in a soft plastic bag :
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