The Google Doodle of April 28, 2017, commemorates the 256th birthday of Mme. Marie Harel who, according to local legend, invented Camembert cheese in 1791, along with 'cheese whisperer' Abbot Charles-Jean Bonvoust.
Google's slideshow illustrates how Camembert is made, step by step. It's drawn in a charming, nostalgic style reminiscent of early 20th-century French poster artists, such as Hervé Morvan and Raymond Savignac.
Who was Marie Harel?
Marie Harel, was born in Crouttes, Normandy on April 28, 1761 . She was a French cheesemaker.
She worked as a cheesemaker at the Manor of Beaumoncel, and made Camembert cheeses according to local custom.
Her main contribution was to have initiated a dynasty of entrepreneurial cheesemakers who developed the production of Camembert cheese on a large scale, notably her grandson Cyrille Paynel, born in 1817, who created a cheese factory in the commune of Le Mesnil-Mauger in Calvados at France.
She died on November 9th 1844 aged 83.
How did the invention of Camembert come about?
Legend has it that Mme. Harel benefited from the advice of a priest, Abbot Charles-Jean Bonvoust, who was on the run from anti-clerical government forces during the French Revolution and hiding at the Manor of Beaumoncel.
He was a native of Brie, and passed along to the technique of making cheese with an edible rind, such as was produced in his native area. In reality, Bonvoust came from Pays deCaux. This apocryphal story, for which there is no evidence, is still often accepted as true.
Harel is said to have made some slight changes to the recipe, removing the cream, reducing the size of the wheel and -in a genius move - packaging the cheese in the thin round wooden boxes that we are so familiar with today.
This method of packaging meant the cheese was easily transportable, so Camembert exports took off, especially in North America.
The huge scaling up of production of Camembert in the first half of the 19th century was undertaken by the descendants of Marie Harel who saw themselves as the only legitimate holders of the designation Camembert.
But, from 1870, other Norman manufacturers contest this family monopoly.
What exactly is Camembert cheese?
The cheese is yellow in color, with an earthy aroma, creamy taste, and an edible white rind and much like it's cousin brie except Camembert is made from unpasteurised milk. Only in this form is it deemed 'Camembert de Normandie'.
There's a Marie Harel statue
In the village of Vimoutiers, location of the world famous Camembert Museum, there is a statue of a cow as well as one of Marie as a testament to her influence in French cheese culture.