Brie is a soft cows' cheese named after Brie, the French province in which it originated (roughly corresponding to the modern department of Seine-et-Marne). It is pale in color with a slight grayish tinge under a rind of white mold; very soft and savory with a hint of ammonia. The whitish moldy rind is typically eaten, the flavor quality of which depends largely upon the ingredients used and its fabrication environment.
In the French language, the cheese is distinguished from the region in France that gave its name by their respective grammatical genders; the region is feminine: la Brie, but the cheese Brie is masculine, le Brie. Brie is the best known French cheese and has a nickname "The Queen of Cheeses". Several hundred years ago, Brie was one of the tributes which had to be paid to the French kings.
In France, Brie is very different from the cheese exported to the United States. "Real" French Brie is unstabilized and the flavor is complex when the surface turns slightly brown. When the cheese is still pure-white, it is not matured. If the cheese is cut before the maturing process is finished, it will never develop properly. Exported Brie, however, is stabilized and never matures.
Stabilized Brie has a much longer shelf life and is not susceptible to bacteriological infections. Brie, one of the great dessert cheeses, comes as either a 1 or 2 kilogram wheel and is packed in a wooden box. In order to enjoy the taste fully, Brie must be served at room temperature.