Creole cream cheese. Ever heard of it?
If you’ve got roots in New Orleans, or some parts of Cajun Country, or if you’re a Slow Food disciple and track endangered foods, it might be familiar. But there are still a good many people throughout Louisiana and the rest of the country who have yet to discover this indigenous farmhouse cheese and its unique flavor profile.
A few years back in South Louisiana, when both Smith Creamery and Chef John Folse’s Bittersweet Plantation Dairy were making Creole cream cheese, you could find tubs of it on local grocery stores shelves. Then Smith Creamery experienced a large fire, and was later bought by Kleinpeter Dairy, and Folse opted to close his operation and focus on other ventures. Creole cream cheese was still being made in the region, but Baton Rougeans couldn’t buy it without special ordering it or driving over an hour to the Covington or Crescent Farmers Markets. Now you can find it again in the Capital Region as well as other parts of the state.
Last week, I was so excited to find Kenny and Jamie Mauthe’s Progress Milk Barn Creole cream cheese on the shelves of the Bet-R, one of several independents where you should be able to buy it. This is great news because the Mauthes, who operate from the McComb, Mississippi, are perhaps the region’s most respected Creole cream cheese makers.
Creole cream cheese’s flavor profile is reminiscent of Greek yogurt and sour cream, but it’s somewhat thicker. You can top it with sugar and fresh fruit, or slather it on toasted French bread and add herbs and cracked pepper. Those are the traditional ways of eating it. People who remember it from childhood have a strong attachment to it, and it’s been at the center of the conversation about lost local foods, especially in New Orleans.
I interviewed the Mauthes for my book on Louisiana foodways, which came out earlier this month. I visited their farm, saw their adorable Jersey cows and watched their process of making Creole cream cheese. I brought back several tubs, gobbled them up and lamented that we couldn’t buy it locally. Now we can.
Jamie Mauthe told me this week that the farm has increased production to 600-1000 tubs a week, and that a distributor is sending Creole cream cheese to regional independent grocers. It’s also in the new Rouses in Juban Crossing, as well as other Rouses from Mobile, Ala. to Lafayette, La. Here’s dairyman Kenny Mauthe with some of those irresistible cows.
Read more about “The Curious Comeback of Creole Cream Cheese,” Chapter 3 of my book, Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey.