Of all the stinkin’ taxes that lame duck Bush stuck us with, this one is pretty cheesy: A 300% retaliatory duty on Roquefort because the European Union banned imports of U.S. beef containing hormones. While Roquefort wasn’t the only European taste treat slapped with a duty–you’ll see a rise in the price of Irish oatmeal, Italian sparkling water, truffles and fatty goose and duck livers, i.e. fois gras–the cheese stands alone with a 300% duty.
Roquefort is made in the eponymous wee area of France where sheep graze in a carefully proscribed 2100 acre oval. The cheese is made from unpasterized ewe’s milk and reaches its blue veined funkiness in limestone caves that run throughout the area, including under the town of Roquefort’s main street. Only cheese made there in the centuries old way can carry the AOC (appelation d’origine controlee)–and the extreme mark-up courtesy of Bush. But then if you’ve watched those old Western movies, you know how much cattle ranchers like Bush dislike sheep ranchers so this goes deeper that hormonal cows and freedom fries…
Currently you can find AOC Roquefort online in prices ranging from $28 to $35/lb., with a whole wheel selling for $150, though these cheeses seem to have arrived before Bush’s meanspirited pen stroke. The cheese holds up best with red wine (though some prefer it with sauternes) and can be served with a nutty bread, quince jam, figs and other fruit.It goes well of grilled meats and crumbled on salads–both fruity or savory–and mashed or baked potatoes.
Last week a delegation of Roquefort’s elected officials went to the U.S. Embassy in Paris to present their case, hopeful that soon the tariffs will be lifted on the 450 tons of stinky wonder they export to the US–which considering they produce 19,000 tons annually and only a fifth of that ever leaves the country isn’t really that much (Spain imports 1,100 tons annually, making them the largest importer).
But Bush–ever the bully–in order to pick on a uniquely French symbol, chose one of the smallest in order to flex his cowpoke muscle.