According to Le Matin, a cheese collection in the Swiss Alpine town of Grimentz in Valais contains two of the oldest cheeses in the world, possibly the oldest.
The two cheeses, among a collection of 72, were made 142 years ago in 1875. The pastures that fed the cows that produced the milk for them now sit under the waters of Lake Moiry, an artificial lake created by a dam completed in 1958.
The cheeses have survived world wars and famines.
Jean-Jacques Zufferey, custodian of these cheesy relics along with his mother, brother and sister, says the cheeses were given to his grand mother as a gift from her uncle. There is no record of why they were never eaten. “Perhaps they were simply forgotten” suggests Zufferey.
“They are raclette cheeses” says Zufferey. Making raclette cheese requires more heat, which might explain its longevity. No one has tasted them, however Zufferey has no doubt that they are edible. Mice have taken nibbles despite efforts to prevent them.
The cheeses are in some ways like slices of an old tree trunk that are slightly greasy when touched. Zufferey thinks the cheese would be similar to old parmesan. Pictures of the cheeses are shown in a video on Le Matin’s website.
However these cheeses are not for eating. “Even if certain wealthy eccentrics would be ready to name their price” says Zufferey. These cheeses have a cultural value that you can’t put a figure on. Let’s hope the mice heard that.