For the last eight years, Americans have seen their fair share of questionable leadership and head-scratching policy decisions. Leave it to Dubya, however, to save the best for last. The Agence France-Presse is reporting that before leaving office, Bush has enacted legislation that will increase tariffs on France's beloved Roquefort cheese to 300 percent, an amount that would make purchasing it in the U.S. untenable.
As the Huffington Post pointed out yesterday, Bush has never been known for his gastronomic tendencies, preferring canned vegetables to fresh, so it isn't too surprising that he would use Roquefort as a pawn in a trade war that began when the E.U. banned growth hormone-treated meat in the late '80s. But the result—that Americans won't be able to buy Roquefort cheese anymore—is abhorrent to cheese-lovers, foodies, and thinking people everywhere.
Roquefort is a sheep's milk blue cheese made in the South of France and aged in the Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where the molds that grow naturally there infuse the the cheese with its inimitable blue-green striations. The high fat content of the sheep's milk makes Roquefort silky smooth and moist, with a texture that melts in your mouth on every bite.
To be sure, many of these last-minute presidential decrees are overturned just as fast as they are enacted, but it's still a major insult to the French, especially to those hard-working farmers, cheese-makers, and affineurs who produce this wonderful cheese. Here's hoping that Obama will be able to meet all the myriad challenges he has ahead of him, including this latest assault on one of the greatest cheeses in the world.