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Cheese, Wine, and etiquette: is it bad manners to ask for seconds in France?

Smokey golden retriever cabanon stone house
"New Day". Smokey reminds us to live simply, slowly, and not to make a cheese about things! Speaking of fromage, tell us your favorite kind in the comments section. Picture taken from our last vineyard.

TODAY'S WORD: en faire tout un fromage

       : to make a fuss about something
      : to make a mountain out of a molehill
      : to make a big deal out of something

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French expression Download En faire tout un fromage

Improve your spoken French: Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

(This story was written 3 years ago)

For Friday's lunch with guests Eugenia and David, there would be two things less to worry about: the plat principal and the cheese plate. (We still had gigot de sanglier--and the rock-star selection of fromages my sister-in-law, Cécile, had brought, when she and Jean-Marc's mom came for Sunday roast).  While these conveniences would not guarantee Fool Proof Entertaining (this time the toilet broke down and I burned dessert), the ready-made plats certainly lightened my To-Do list!

Speaking of To-Dos, I soon realized, during Friday's meal, one thing I'd left off that list:

Continue to Keep Abreast of French Etiquette! 

Doubts began when I noticed my guests' hesitation before the delicious cheese platter including le comté, la tomme, la gorgonzola, les fromages de brebis... missing was la brousse (finished off that very morning for breakfast--over toast, with apricot jam! What a pity, we could have served this--la brousse avec confiture--for dessert instead of tarte brûlée!)

Cheese Etiquette?

When the much-anticipated plateau de fromage remained untouched the second time around, Eugenia finally admitted: "Once, while eating at a French restaurant, I skipped dessert--opting instead for an additional serving of cheese--when someone pointed out it was impolite to have seconds from the cheese platter." Our guest finished her story with an innocent question. "Is this true? Is it bad manners to have another helping from the cheese platter?"

Everything went silent at the table but for the sound of my husband, the host, stabbing at another piece of comté--his fave.

Whatever the rules, we could see by one Frenchman's actions that there was no need to en faire tout un fromage when it came to cheese etiquette (at least not at our French/American table...). Just dig in and enjoy!


le fromage = cheese
le plat principal = main course
le gigot = leg, thigh
le sanglier = wild boar
la confiture = jam
la tarte = pie, tarte
brûlé(e) = burnt
le fromage de brebis = sheep's cheese
le plateau de fromage = cheese platter
en faire tout un fromage = to make a big deal out of something

Ephemera JM
Holidays are coming soon and there are still a few cases of Ephemera wines available to celebrate with. Jean-Marc is proud to announce that his dear baby joined the prestigious wine list of a Two Stars Michelin restaurant in Marseille, Alexandre Mazzia and says it drinks very well :)
To get some within the USA (if you live in a State that accepts wine shipments), you can contact Avalon Wines.
If you live in the beautiful area of Portland OR, go to Pastaworks Providore, Pastaworks City Market, Portland bottle shop and Oregon Wines on Broadway
Give a call before to make sure there are still on the shelves. At last, for Europe, please contact me at [email protected]
French cheese etiquette cheese knife cutting board rocket flowers
Share your favorite cheese in the comments, below, so we may all venture out and discover a new flavor. Also, how do you present your cheese? Simply? Or do you go all out, setting it atop Fresh fig or vine leaves, sprinkling the platter with nuts? Mini chalkboards on a pick to identify each one? Fresh fruit?...

Related Story: How to Say "I'm Full" in French?

Fromage beurre cheese butter shop in Salernes
I leave you with a favorite photo taken in the village of Salernes, and a delightful quote, by Clifton Fadiman, to make you smile: Le fromage: le saut du lait vers l'immortalité. (Cheese: milk's leap toward immortality.)

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Audrey Wilson

Favourite cheeses (at the moment!!)
Mottin from the Charentes
St Agur-a blue cheeseI
Ichti Bai a Basque cheese
Bon Appetite !


My current favorite cheese is a fromage Basque: Etorki. I buy a whole one each week and nibble away :)

Jens from Copenhagen

Le Comté or a well-matured Camembert.


I love cheese. I have 10 different ones in the fridge right now. But my current favorites...Brie de Meaux and Piave(a nutty hard Italian cheese). And of course paired with a good bottle of wine and a true French baguette.


Cantal always! I was introduced to this lovely cheese while we were picking grapes at Domaine Rouge Bleu in 2009, still remains my favorite! It’s too bad that it is so hard to find in the United States.

jean Palmer

I love that picture ofSmokey in the vinyard surrounded by those beautifulleaves.
As always thanks for sharing. Always love reading your blog.

Eileen deCamp

I like Manchego with it's nutty flavor and firm texture

Brenda Prowse

J’adore le comté le plus vieux!!


Thanks for the reminder about the Ephemera wine. We drank my last bottle of it last night for Thanksgiving dinner. So delicious! I assumed it was sold out by now, but I went to Avalon and ordered two more bottles!
I try to minimize my consumption of dairy products, but I do have a serious weakness for any kind of blue cheese. French blue cheese is good, but my favorite is Cashel Blue cheese from Ireland.

J. Roese

Brie, always brie!


The cheeses sound so wonderful. What is "la brousse" ?



I don't have a favorite cheese but I do have a comment regarding cheese etiquette. To eat the rind/outside covering, or not? Simply stated, if the cheese is hard, no rind, but if soft, enjoy it all!

Kristin Espinasse

Very helpful. Thanks, Bill!

Jan in Colorado

I prefer Brie and port salut with saucisson, grapes and crusty French bread. Lately I've developed a taste for white Vermont cheddar. It's all good!

Audrey Wilson

One of ours too Try the one above !


Clifton Fadiman wrote the comment about cheese and immortality.


Rosalind Mustafa

Bon appetit, toujours, Kristin. Je prefere le bucheron, brie, quelque chose comme ca...
I hope you're well and looking forward to 2020.


Its a delicious fresh goat cheese from :Le Rove , a village close to Marseille.
Only this one is the real brousse.

Angie Quantrell

Oh, cheese and wine! My favorite food groups. I love Jean Marc's approach to seconds (thirds!) Thanks for this taste of France.

Mary Christopher

Yesterday for Thanksgiving I served a Toscana soaked in Syrah, a double cream Gouda, and my favorite Brillât Savarin. I also love tomme and comté, but can’t always find them here in California.

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, David. I will update the post. Love the quote.


Our dear Kristi,
I enjoyed this wonderful story when I first read it,and am enjoying it--and the beautiful pictures!!-even more now.
Your descriptions filled me with smiles,especially remembering our own episodes---particularly not handling them with diplomacy(and first hand knowledge!) the way you and Jean Marc did!
We are huge comte and brie fans!Yum!!
Being well into our troisiemage,we don't have too many concerns about second (or even third!) helpings.
Our friends feel the same.
Thank you for making our day!
Natalia . xo

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, chère Natalia. You never fail to make my day. 💕 P.S. another comte fan here. And tonight it is munster, another favorite.



i have two favorite chesses: Epoisse and Roquefort.
both are very testy and the"smell" of epoisse is "out of this world".
a little anecdote about Epoisse"
years ago, we bought some during our trip to France and we wanted to bring it back to Canada. so, we put it in plastic and in a seal plastic box in our luggage. when we opened the suitcase when at home, the smell was all over the case.
but what a delight.


J’aime les fromages bleus!


I love this expression! I plan to use it when I practice my french.

Pamela Wing

Tilsit. Very hard to find here. It really stinks but as they say "the feet of angels". It is a fairly mild cheese actually and is wonderful with good fruit. I keep looking for it and someday will run across it again. Probably too stinky for American tastes. Si triste.

Judith Dunn

..."I never met a cheese I did not like
I never met a cheese I did not want to bite!" My faves are Camembert, Brie, Port du Salut, Epoisse, Bleu and Stilton, Meunster, Cheddar and many yummy Chevres. Oddly enough , I am the poster child ( at 78) at my MDs office for low chloesterol.. how about that! One of my fave snacks is some Epoisse on a cracker or baguette slice and a handful of both black and green olives! In desparation I will succumb to even using Philly! We brought 2 wheels of Epoisse home from France, and they were delicious and did not stink up the backpack.. triple wrapped! Air France shrunk wrapped the backpack due to the loose straps... that saved our cheese! Americans are usually not shy about asking/ taking seconds..... bon appetit a tous! Judi


I adore a cheese that no French people seem to buy at the supermarket...Rouculons with a heart on the package. it is like Reblochon but better, with the taste of white truffles. Good fresh but let it sit a couple of days for those who like a bit more zing.
A also adore fresh goat cheeses and the queen of cheeses, maroille!!!

Valerie Meluskey

Ah...all of these...! the more aromatic the better. I even like the soft unripened goat cheese that one has to find where it's made. The best cheeses I had were served to us in Paris at a private home. In America, we have to put things through some kind of FDA anti bacteria rule that "ruins" the extra wonderfulness of these cheeses, especially brie and camembert.
Ah, La Belle France!


Selon moi, standard fav is Gorgonzola - love the blend of Brie and Bleu. Second is comté which, as one person said, is hard to find in CA. Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving feast to carry on your American traditions! - Janet


Manchego is my favorite as well! Mmmmm..... but honestly have never met a cheese I didn’t like!

Cynthia Lewis

Be certain to save that tasty rind to add to soups for extra flavor ( freeze it, if you like, for future use). My! All of these cheeses sound delicious!


We visit our French friends in the Poitou and the Île de France annually. Trust me, nobody only takes a single helping of cheese. The cheese plate is sparse if not completely empty after every meal.


Beufort (not sure of the spelling). A specialty cheese made in the Alps. So delicious and I can't find it here in the US.

Rick Spring

I'm not sure if it's my favorite, but I am fond of cantal from the Auvergn.


J’adore le fromage. My favorites are Cabecou from the region of Quercy, Manchego, Blue d’Auvergne, Morbier, and Le Pico, but there isn’t a French cheese that I don’t like. I am not a fan of Cheddar.
Unfortunately in the US many people serve cheese an an hors d’œuvre rather than a cheese course after the meal. As a matter of fact, we just had French onion soup and finished with Gorgonzola.

Peace, Kathleen

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Cécile. It is always a delight to see your notes. Please bring that cheese with you next time! 💕  And tell us what la brousse really means  I looked it up in the dictionary, but it didnt mention a relation to cheese.

Patricia Sands

What a wonderful cheese boutique this comment thread is today! We are never without a Brie de Meaux and a comte of some sort. :-)

Robert McGowan

I'm on board for a French raclette de brebis.


Hi Kristi ! you can surch on internet " Brousse du Rove", you ´ll see the verry special and unique goats from this place. And after, to eat tis really famous brousse , i have to check if there is in winter !

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Cécile. I will check it out.  

Marianne Rankin

I like a number of cheeses, but my definite favorite is camembert.

I also like a quotation attributed to Charles de Gaulle, which I read in English:
"How do you govern a country that has over 250 kinds of cheese?"


I am lucky enough to live in the village that is home to Jasper Hill Farm Cheese.
Their Bayley-Hazen Bleu is my absolute fave, although their Harbison, a soft one, is also delicious.


So, I don't think I have a favorite as I haven't eaten many of the cheeses that people have mentioned; but, I do love camembert, gorgonzola, brie. I don't think that anyone can ever have too much cheese in one's life! Have a most delicious 2020!


Love Etorki, Reblochon and the various Tomme!

Maggie Grace

I love a spicy jack cheese for sandwiches, Gorgonzola and Pecorino Romano and we tried a new one from Wales, a very tangy sharp cheddar called Collier's Cheddar. My son picked it out, his name is Collier, which is a family name.

Alice Shupe

The cheeses of France are one of the best things about being there! A favorite that is hard to get in the US is Morbier with that strip of ash runnning down the middle. Delicieux!


Sorry I am Just reading this.
You may have written about this cheese etiquette already, but my brother- in-Law was visiting his daughter's family in France and helped with the cheese platter there. He got a stern reprimand for cutting it incorrectly by the mother of the family. I don't have my diagram here but it may be a good story!

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