This New York Deli Claims To Have Introduced Brie To The City

Brie dates to the eighth century and is named for the natural region of northern France in which it originated (via Pong Cheese). This soft-ripened cheese (via Many Fold Farm) can become 'baked Brie,' be served warm with preserves or honey with crackers, or used in dips, a grilled cheese sandwich, or even in a gratin (per Insanely Good Recipes). Molded-in rounds and covered in a crust of powdery Penicillium candidum, Brie is easily recognizable. It ripens in just three to four weeks, yielding a final product that is creamy and soft (via Britannica).

Brie is a double cream cheese, meaning it has a butterfat content of 60-75%, according to The PHCheese. Triple cream Brie includes an extra measurement of cream to the milk used in a double cream Brie, resulting in a cheese that has at least 75 percent butterfat. Triple cream Brie is so rich, it's said to taste "more buttery than butter itself."

Authentic Brie is made from unpasteurized milk. If you want a taste, you'll need your passport because FDA regulations ban unpasteurized dairy products in the United States unless they have been aged longer than 60 days (via Culture Trip). Brie purists do not consider Brie that can be purchased in the U.S. to be "real" Brie, calling it bland and flavorless by comparison (via Slate). The origin story of Brie in the United States isn't entirely clear, but one famous deli claims to have introduced the cheese to New York City.

Zabar's shaped a neighborhood

Although Brie originated in eighth-century France (it was a favorite of Charlemagne, according to Pong Cheese), it's been available in the U.S. for less than a century. There is some discrepancy about the first Brie in the U.S. — it's widely accepted that the first wheels arrived in 1936 via the first ocean liner equipped with a refrigeration system, the Ile de France (via Ile de France and Deli Business). This, of course, was before the existence of the FDA, which now prohibits the importing of raw milk products aged less than 60 days (via Food 52).

We don't know where the cheese aboard the Ile De France went once it arrived stateside, but a famous market and deli claims that they were the first retailer to introduce Brie to New York City, sometime in the 1960s. Zabar's has been a Manhattan institution for eight decades. Starting in 1934 as a simple storefront for smoked fish, Ukrainian immigrants Louis and Lillian Zabar expanded the business, growing it from a deli and market catering to Jewish immigrants into a "gourmet emporium" by the 1970s (via MSN). It's not just Brie that Zabar's claims to have introduced to a burgeoning set of Manhattan foodies. They also claim the introduction of gnocchi and sun-dried tomatoes to the neighborhood in the 1970s and the popularization of caviar in the 1980s.