Despite the state of the dairy industry, the affineurs (cheese agers) at Marcel Petite are serious enough about their product that they carefully choose the shops that sell it.

"You have to fight to be a customer," Gurdal says. "If they like you, you move up a notch." France likes Formaggio Kitchen; Gurdal's father, store owner Ihsan Gurdal, received the title of "Chevalier of the Ordre du Merite Agricole" ("knight of agricultural valor") from the French government last year.

As for cheese from other animals you don't usually find in a barnyard? Well, there was much buzz about a soft camel's milk cheese from Mauritania after the New York Times ran an article about its New York arrival in March of last year. It was supposed to sell for about $30 per pound. But the buzz was all for naught: the cheese was recalled within a week of hitting the shelves, says Mike Spano, a store manager at Todaro Bros., a specialty food store in New York.

And then there's a French Web site claiming to sell a cheese called "Le Petit Singly," made from "the mother's milk of a woman." We're pretty sure that one is a hoax, and the Museum of Hoaxes agrees with us. But apparently there is some demand for it:

"A customer came into our old store in New York once and asked, 'Have you ever gotten this breast milk cheese?'" Gurdal says.

-- Reported by Carmen Nobel in Boston.

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