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Legend has it that the cheese was discovered when a youth, eating his lunch of bread and ewes' milk cheese, saw a beautiful girl in the distance. Abandoning his meal in a nearby cave, he ran to meet her. When he returned a few months later, the mold had transformed his plain cheese into Roquefort. Roquefort, or similar style cheese, is mentioned in literature as far back as AD 79, when Pliny the Elder remarked upon its rich flavor. In 1411 Charles VI granted a monopoly for the ripening of the cheese to the people of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon as they had been doing for centuries. Cheese making colanders have been discovered amongst the region's prehistoric relics.
Traditionally the cheese makers extracted it by leaving bread in the caves for six to eight weeks until it was consumed by the mold. The interior of the bread was then dried to produce a powder. In modern times the mold can be grown in a laboratory, which allows for greater consistency. The mold may either be added to the curd, or introduced as an aerosol, through holes poked in the rind.
The famous cheese from Roquefort is white, tangy and crumbly with distinctive veins of a greenish mold. This slightly moist cheese has a sharp odor and a notable taste of butyric acid. The green veins provide a tang that is unlike other similar cheeses. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, then waxes sweet, then smoky, and fades to a salty finish. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kilograms, and is about 10 cm thick. Each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 liters of milk.