Chronicling the expat life in France, one smelly, moldy cheese at a time

Kazz Regelman ’89 writes about a different French cheese every day on her blog, A Year in Fromage.
Kazz Regelman ’89 writes about a different French cheese every day on her blog, A Year in Fromage.
Photo: Alden Gewirtz

“How can you govern a country that has 246 varieties of cheese?” asked Charles de Gaulle in 1962. When Kazz Regelman ’89 read that quote just after moving to France, it became the inspiration for her blog, A Year in Fromage (www.ayearinfromage.com). Every day, she writes about a different cheese — she has sampled 300 so far, more than even de Gaulle knew — describing the smells (often stinky) and the skins (sometimes moldy) while chronicling everyday life with her family among the French.

Regelman (known as Karen at Princeton) and her husband, Anthony Trask ’91, along with their 9- and 11-year-old daughters, moved to Paris from San Francisco three years ago when Trask took a new job. For her family, which “has a strong adventurous streak,” she says, the mandate to consume cheese every day sometimes has proved comic. While traveling in Alsace, they purchased the local munster cheese to take to the movies. The French version is not a block of mild white cheese, as in the United States, but a mold-covered disk with an intensely powerful odor. When they unwrapped their snack, their fellow moviegoers were horrified by the “super-blasts of stink rays,” Regelman says.

Regelman begins each warm, wry post in her blog with the quotidian life of her family, punctuated by observations about French culture that only an expat could provide. In traditional French meals, after the main course comes the cheese, so each post moves on to Regelman’s vivid impressions of her fromage du jour. She advises that neophytes to French cheese begin with brillat-savarin, “a golden buttery cow’s cheese,” and work up to le puant gris, known as “the gray stinker,” which even the French find hard to stomach. Her blog, which will continue past its one-year anniversary in November, is a growing encyclopedia about French life and fromage.

Regelman is no stranger to the expatriate life. At Princeton, she majored in the Woodrow Wilson School and studied multiple languages, though French was her first. Following a year in Taiwan on a Fulbright scholarship, she moved to Japan with Princeton in Asia and worked as the Tokyo correspondent for Variety magazine. Today, she devotes her time to motherhood, blogging, and freelance writing.

Now pushing herself to try the most obscure French cheeses, Regelman is dreaming of the day when she can return to her favorites: bleu de severac, ossau iraty, and gouda de la citadelle d’arras. Until then, with a dozen cheeses in her refrigerator at any one time, she is searching for help consuming them: “If you’re reading this and you come to Paris, contact me, and we’ll break bread and cheese together.”