As for the official data, France Neufchatel was first produced in 1543 in the Saint-Aman Abbey. This fact makes this cheese similar to another French cheese - Muenster, which was first made in the monastery of Alsace province. And like this sort, Neufchatel is also produced mostly in other countries nowadays.
The history of this product is, indeed, interesting. In the 19th century the prime time of prosperity for this sort of cheese began. Napoleon III who was a great admirer of France Neufchatel is told to have received one day a huge basket of this cheese. The whole France liked the cheese at that time, and it was the best, the most popular and willingly-purchased sort in the country.
Problems began after the World War II, when the production level decreased and the cheese lost its bygone popularity. The main reason of this event was a great profit made on milk sale instead of cheese making. In 1958 the manufactures who produced this sort of cheese asked for the protection of a special trade association, and since 1969 Neufchatel cheese of France has an Appellation d'Origine Controlee status.
The cheese is nowadays produced in different countries of the world. National variants are not the same as the original, each distinguished by a peculiar taste and flavor. France Neufchatel cheese is very soft similar to cream cheeses. The only difference is that Neufchatel is made of whole cow's (in the United States of America - of goat's) milk instead of cream.
In the process of cheese making a lot of moisture is added to the product, which ensures low fat content and a soft structure. Though fat content may be different - from 20 to 45 per cent - the cheese is always very delicate and soft. When young, it has a slightly-salt flavor. On ageing it becomes more pungent, but nevertheless, really wonderful.
An interesting fact about this cheese is its shape. You can meet a lot of different shapes, but if you see a heart-shaped piece of cheese be sure it is France Neufchatel. Such an unusual form is connected with the ancient stories about ladies who could inform a definite person about their feelings with such a piece of cheese.
Before cooking with Neufchatel cheese you are heartily recommended to determine, whether you have a French variant of cheese or American. They differ not only in taste and structure, but also in dishes they are best to be served with. American Neufchatel will be very good with soup and baked food, it will give them richness. Fruit and wines will be also good if added to this sort of cheese. You can also try to top sandwiches and crackers with it.
Neufchatel made in France is typically used as a table and dessert cheese served with fresh and baked fruit. In general, each sort of cheese is wonderful with fruit and wine. So, if you need to cook a quick and really tasty snack do not become flustered. Just buy cheese, apples, pears and some other fruits, and your guests will enjoy a wonderful dinner at your home.