Mi, Mi, Mi, Mi

Big Cheese

What does a cheesemonger write about? Three guesses.

Book Cover OK, I admit that I am blind to the allure of books about food, chefs, or most of what seems to excite the foodie partisans of the reading world. I did enjoy Amanda Hesser’s romance memoir and Barbara Haber’s social history, From Hardtack to Home Fries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals. Now comes Gordon Edgar’s memoir Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge (Chelsea Green), and it is both great fun and, uh, informative.

Apparently Gordon Edgar is a big, uh, deal—OK, I won’t say it—in the cheese world, having made his reputation at San Francisco’s worker-owned Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. And his progressive politics and man-of-the-people activism allows for a singular view of “America’s growing cheese movement” (whatever that is).

Thankfully, Edgar writes straightforwardly about cheese, without the arcane and dare I say rococo language that characterizes much of food writing. And in a recent interview he expounds on how he sees his role:
“I see myself as being kind of a translator between urban and rural life,” Edgar says. “A lot of [smaller farmers’] business is about staying in business, just to make a living. They don’t necessarily understand why someone from the city is asking these really specific and not very on-point questions like, ‘What is the ratio of grass to grain in your feed?’ Urban people have these little pinpricks of information about rural life, and that’s why it often comes across as absurd to dairy farmers, because it’s like, ‘Boy, you don’t know anything about my work life and you want to grill me on this one little specific point about the process?’ And then the urban audience comes in and asks why all this cheese isn’t organic and I have to explain how much extra more it would cost a goat cheesemaker to go organic in a place where goats can’t graze all year round.”
blog comments powered by Disqus