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Does Anyone Really Eat the Rind of a Brie?

 I saw Martha baking Brie on her show on Saturday. I noticed she did not remove the white covering. I am new to brie and thought you were supposed to cut this off. Is it OK to always leave it on?

 In The World of Cheese, Evan Jones recounted a story of Charlemagne tasting a new cheese for the first time at the table of a French bishop. "When the great man discarded the cheese's edible mold and ate only the rich, creamy paste, the distressed bishop asked, 'Why do you do that, my lord emperor? You are throwing away the best part!'" The story ends with Charlemagne eating the rind, and eventually bestowing lands and riches on the bishop. Whether it was Brie or Camembert or another cheese with an edible rind, Jones did not say.

But, like the emperor, you can certainly eat the rind, although we don't know whether you'll agree that it is the best part. The rind or skin is formed naturally by molds and bacteria on the surface of the cheese, which start out as fine white hairs and grow to what the French call poil de chat, or cat fur. The fur is rubbed off, and underneath is a thin rind encasing the nearly fluid interior of the cheese.

Some people find the skin rather bland and don't eat it. Bries (and all commercially produced cheeses in this country) are made from pasteurized milk, which may account for the rather uninspired taste of the rind. It would be a huge mess and enormous waste of time to remove the rind from a wheel of brie before baking it.

And for our readers in remotest China and the mountains of Paraguay (and we have several!), the questioner is referring to Martha Stewart, whose cooking/gardening/decorating/homemaking television programs, magazines, newspaper articles, radio broadcasts, and Web site reach nearly everywhere in the world (from the wilds of West Virginia to the halls of Congress). Here is Ms. Stewart's recipe for Baked Brie.

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