Cervelle de Canut (Herbed Cheese Spread)

Cervelle de Canut (Herbed Cheese Spread)

The author Bill Buford spent years in Lyon, France, researching French cuisine for his book “Dirt.” He picked up this recipe from a modern Lyonnaise bouchon, Le Bouchon des Filles. The simple, savory mixture of fromage blanc with shallots, garlic and other seasonings is a mainstay in Lyon, where it often appears with the cheese course. (Or it may be the cheese course.) The name means silk worker's brain, a mysterious reference to the days when silk weaving made Lyon rich. This version is set apart by its lavish use of fresh herbs.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 2 persons



  1. Step 1

    If using farm-fresh cheese, line a sieve with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Add the fromage blanc and let it strain at room temperature for at least 3 to 4 hours to eliminate excess liquid.
  2. Step 2

    Combine fromage blanc with all remaining ingredients in a food processor and blend until the shallots are finely chopped and the texture begins to resemble cottage cheese, about 30 seconds.
  3. Step 3

    Empty into a bowl and whisk; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve chilled; eat with a spoon or serve with baguette.