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In the shop we fairly regularly get asked by customers who have been on holiday and had a particular cheese if we could get it for them. The answer occasionally “yes”, but usually “no”. Not, that is, without getting on a plane to where they went on holiday.

Charles De Gaulle once asked how anyone could be expected to govern a country that had 246 types of cheese. His researchers got it wrong: there are many more than 246 types of cheese in France. In fact, it is estimated that there are now more than 600 cheesemakers in the UK!

Granted, many of them are making generic cheeses, but there are some that are making cheeses that are unique (so far) to them. Isle of Wight Blue would be a good example.

The localised rarity of certain cheeses was brought home to me by a friend who was staying in a village in Northern Italy and was given a small blue cheese which was so delicious that it was eaten in one sitting.

The next day he asked what it was called and if he could buy more. The answer to the second part was “yes”. The answer to the first part was “cheese”!

It was made by a local farmer with a small herd of cows and he hadn’t bothered naming it as it was just the “cheese” he sold locally.

I’m not going to be able to get that for him. He’ll have to go back to the village and hope the “cheese” is still being made.