Legend has it that Napoleon christened this cheese "Camembert" after the Norman village where a farmer's wife first served it to him. Now world famous, this cow's-milk cheese is traditionally made from raw milk, though today pasteurized versions abound. The original and classic French Camembert is Camembert de Normandie. However, today there are myriad versions produced in France, Italy, Switzerland, South America and the United States and many are factory made with pasteurized milk. Such versions lack the full flavor and soft, creamy texture of the original. Camembert has a white, downy rind and a smooth, creamy interior that, when perfectly ripe, should ooze thickly. When overripe, this cheese becomes runny, bitter and rank. Choose Camembert that is plump and soft to the touch. Avoid those with hardened edges, which may forecast overripeness.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.