Linkity round up:
Going away for a week (three book events, the rest vacation) was awesome. Coming home was made nicer by finding some great reviews had been printed/posted in my absence. I hope you don’t mind the self-indulgence, but I will lose the links if I don’t post them here:
Booklist (Starred review) (not online so you get the whole thing) Gordon (Zola) Edgar recounts his life in cheese, which began when he took a job at the cheese counter of the famed Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco, knowing little beyond the Monterey Jack he grew up eating. His punk-rock aesthetic and political activism meshed beautifully with the worker-run natural foods store, but it wasn’t until a revelatory encounter with an Antique Gruyère that a true passion was kindled. He claims that this is a memoir, not a guidebook, but you couldn’t really ask for a more personable guide and introduction to the world of cheese, especially for those turned off by the lah-de-dahing often associated with it. He has a tendency to talk in circles, wandering from topic to topic and back around again, but it’s almost always enlightening and entertaining. He’ll get into aging cheese, then mirror it with his own maturation, or slice into the political aspects of making cheese (of which there are many), then segue into his own unique role in the community, or counterbalance techie talk of rennet and growth hormones with personal anecdotes of persnickety customers and earthy cheese makers. What really sets him apart, though, is his absolute disdain for pretension. He recognizes that a cheese obsession is inevitably foodie-ish, but that doesn’t mean it has to be tied up in snobbery and fetishization of trendy buzzwords (his picking apart of artisanal and terroir are especially delicious). Each chapter ends with a couple of cheese recommendations for us poor souls not lucky enough to have a Gordon Zola in our own neighborhoods. –Ian Chipman
San Francisco Chronicle
“If there’s a dose of Bourdain here, Edgar more substantively questions the often too-high prices of cheese; details the work of local cheesemakers; and deftly telegraphs how punk aethetics perfectly mesh with a foodstuff that’s seen as the ultimate yuppie indulgence.”
San Francisco Bay Guardian
“Cheesemonger still makes for great food porn. Edgar breaks down how cheeses are made, gives helpful information on basic categories, explains what makes a rind and why the hell cheese is aged in caves, and perhaps most importantly, what to look out for when you do decide to splurge on a wedge”
”Come in the Worker’s Only entrance of the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco, and meet cheesemonger Gordon Edgar, ex-punk rocker, (slightly) subdued social activist, cheese doler, and storyteller. With briny, down-to-earth candor, Edgar takes us behind the counter, into the storeroom, the factory, the convention centers, and the farms, clarifying misconceptions, breaking down illusions, poking at the ridiculous, and sharing his great passion for good cheese. Like any punk refusing to be labeled, this often hilarious and always tasty book is part cheese guide, part memoir, and part social critique, delivering all with a lip-smacking bite that makes it hard to put down.”
Radio Interview on “Edible Communities”
“…the real attraction to this book is that Edgar takes no prisoners in his search for the truth in cheese and we all eat better for it.”
“Armed with a healthy disdain for pretentiousness and a liberal attitude rooted in punk rock and activism, Edgar provides engaging, illuminating essays on the intricacies of cheese and its production” (I also irritated them with my asides and repetition, oh well…)
I am in pursuit of a latent passion and recent inspiration (and what is surely a mid-life crisis) to immerse myself in all things cheese. I aspire to become a “cheese scholar,” and have recently registered for my first formal education in cheese- a Master Cheese Course at the Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in NY, where I’m probably in way over my head with over 100 cheeses on the docket and I’ll no doubt be shoulder to shoulder with a room of seasoned cheese snobs.
My questions: Is there money in cheese education; where do I start; and what do I need in my background to make me the best candidate for a cheesemonger or cheese educator in a fabulous cheese shop? Thanks!