Cantal is France’s oldest recorded cheese, dating from the rule of the Gauls around 500 B.C. Yes, this cheese might have been at dinner when Asterix was getting ready to go punch Romans, as for Obelix, well he was just interested in wild boars. Tales go that at the time of the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th Century, Normans brought Cantal with them, and people in England began making it, eventually reaching the village of Cheddar, where it became a staple product. Cantal might well be the mother of Cheddar cheese.
It is a semi-firm cheese, but hard by French norms. Cantal Cheese is made from cows milk from up to three different breeds of cattle, one of which is Salers cattle. There are both pasteurized and unpasteurized versions. Cantal Fermier, a farmhouse version, is made from unpasteurized milk; the cheese made from pasteurized milk is called Cantal Laitier.
By AOC regulations, Cantal Cheese undergoes a minimum 30 days aging, but it can be aged up to six months. As it ages, the greyish-brown-colored rind will develop orangey-red mold, and inside the color changes from ivory to buttery-yellow. Young Cantal is called “jeune”; six months or more is called “vieux”, and in between is called “entre deux.” When young, it is moist, rubbery, mild and sweet, somewhat like Lancashire cheese. When old, it will be drier and sharper. Old Cantal can be grated. Hand cut. Approximately 7oz, Weight might vary.