Food Quotes — Abbey

“I take my shirt off and hang it over a chair; the sweat-soaked armpits will dry within five minutes, leaving a time of salt along the seams. Hastily I assemble a couple of sandwiches: lettuce, left-over bacon from breakfast, sliced ham, peanut butter, salami, longhorn cheese, cashews, raisins horseradish, anything else that will fit comfortably between two slices of bread – and take the dewy pitcher of juice and hasten outside and through the storm of sunlight over the baking sandstone of the 33,000 acre terrace to the shade and the relative coolness of the ramada.

“The thermometer nailed to a post reads 110 degrees F, but in the shade, with a breeze and almost no humidity, such a temperature is comfortable, even pleasant. I sit down at the table, pull off my boots and socks, dig my toes into the gritty, cleansing sand. Fear no more the heat of the sun. This is comfort. More, this is bliss, pure smug animal satisfaction. I relax beneath the sheltering canopy of juniper boughs and gaze out squinting and blinking at a pink world being sunburned to death.”

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire 1968

Food quotes — Mina

I’ve collected a lot of food quotes over the years.   I figured I’d start sharing them here.

This is from a novel I read on vacation:

“He knew a lot of people came to eat here, paid the high prices, because of what was implied by eating in the Paddle Café. Organic, local, farmers’ market. Nose-to-tail. Seasonal. All the hollow pro-words he used to give a fuck about. It was an underground movement when Boyd got into it. At one time he’d cared about it with the same fevered certainty that his minister father had for his faith. Past heresy, his father used to say, was the present orthodoxy: the food revolutionaries now found themselves unwilling high priests of a bland new consensus.”

Demise Mina, Blood Salt Water (An Alex Morrow Novel).

Des Moines is almost here

Wow, I can’t believe I will be getting on a plane for Des Moines in less than two weeks. I am really excited to go, not just for the American Cheese Society conference, but because I’ve never been to Des Moines and it seems like a fun town. I mean, look what they did to the YMCA Building for fun on a Saturday night:

I will be there early for judging, so I am actually doing a cheddar class at the awesome Cheese Shop of Des Moines on the Monday before the conference.  It was close to sold out when I talked to CJ a couple of weeks ago, but if you are in town, you should come. Lots of cheddar!  I will also be signing copies of my books at the conference on Friday from 11:30-Noon.

For you last minute folks, I am doing a talk at Pt Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company’s regular farm tour tomorrow (Friday July 15). Tickets with the book included are sold out, but there are still (cheaper) slots that give you all the other benefits and hopefully my talk will convince you to buy a copy or two. look at all you get for that! Cheese, beer, cows, Giacominis, and me!

Steve Ehlers, unsung hero of cheese.

This is my favorite picture of Steve Ehlers (far right), taken at the Burlington ACS. Maybe not the most flattering, but one which really captured the nature of the ACS back in those days. I like to call it “The pageantry of the ACS awards ceremony.”

Steve Ehlers was pretty much the first cheese person I met outside of California when I started going to cheese conferences. Many California folks from the slightly earlier generation of the American cheese renaissance helped me develop my practical knowledge, taste, and historical interest in cheese – people like Kathleen Shannon Finn, Andrea London, Ig Vella, Jennifer Bice, Mary Keehn, Judy and Charlie Creighton, Dan Strongin… But Steve was probably the first to show this interested but insecure Californian that he could be part of the cheese world on a larger level.

He welcomed me into the American Cheese Society. I don’t remember how we first met – probably when I volunteered to help prepare cheeses for judging at the first Louisville ACS – but I was feeling overwhelmed being at an event where everyone seemed to know each other and I was one of the youngest people there. Back in those days, the ACS conferences were only a couple hundred people and I wasn’t sure I could fit in with the group or, honestly if I wanted to.

Steve and I hit it off right away. We had common interests in the world outside of cheese, which always helps, but I don’t know if I have ever met a more friendly supportive person. Later I watched him do the same with plenty of other new cheese folks. He easily could have been too busy – running a shop, being on the ACS board – but he always made time for people. He really exemplified everything I love about the artisan cheese world: friendly, smart, willing to share practical knowledge and oral history, encouraging, disapproving of pretension, non-self aggrandizing, and always seeking out ways to help people in our community and cheesemakers having a hard time. These are the qualities that helped make me decide that I could find a home in the world of cheese. Steve is not the only person I can thank for that, but he’s on a short list.

The funniest moment I can remember with Steve, when I really learned he was one of my people, might not be funny to you. Steve and I shared an interest in history and the history of radical political movements of the ‘60s. His Facebook icon – not that he ever Facebooked (smart man) — was this iconic picture from the rebellion of Paris ’68.

So we were hanging out at a Sheana Davis event during Fancy Food week in San Francisco and I introduced him to a local cheese sales rep. Upon learning Steve lived in Milwaukee, the rep said, “Oh, I have relatives in Wisconsin. My cousin is a weatherman in Madison.” Steve and I started laughing uncontrollably and the rep is probably still trying to figure out what was so funny, not knowing that when we hear Madison and weatherman together in a sentence, we both hear it with a capital W.

We always bonded over being some of the few people at ACS in cheese retail or distributing that stayed in the same job for more than 20 years. It’s a small club. Me, Juliana and Alma from the Pasta Shop, Helder from Zuercher, Patty and Steve from Larry’s Market and a few others… Going to Larry’s was something I did every time I went to Milwaukee. It’s a small but mighty place and it always feels like a home away from home.

I can only imagine what his family and closer friends must be going through because Steve was one of those people that just brightened up every room and every interaction. He is a real unsung hero of the American cheese renaissance. It’s actually really hard for me to imagine our community without him.

I am going to miss Steve a lot. And I know I am not the only one.

(For a more detailed obituary of Steve, please see Karen Herzog’s great tribute here)

Special Cheddar Class!!

I know you are used to getting me for free.  That’s cool and all — I wouldn’t be touring the SFPL if it wasn’t — but actual intensive cheese classes have their place.

My next local cheese event is at the Cheese School on April 19 and I am super excited about this.  We will taste a number of cheddars —  various ages, from nearby and far away — that show the breadth of styles of this seemingly ubiquitous cheese. These cheddars will represent the history of the America’s most popular cheese for 150 years and we get into why cheddar has changed so much, how it is thought of in different regions of the country, and why cheddar is a great way to look into the evolution of the US food system.

Oh and we are eating the cheddars with beer! Go to the Cheese School site and buy your ticket. April 19!


Pacific Northwest, Here I Come

Can’t wait to see you all up in the Pacific Northwest.  Unfortunately I couldn’t pull off as long a trip as I wanted to, but I will be in Seattle, Portland, and Central Point this week. Tell your friends!

March 19 – Central Point, OR Oregon Cheese Festival . I will be  selling books at the Fest on the 19th! Tickets needed to Festival, see link.

March 20 – Portland, OR Reading Frenzy,3628 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227.  5PM. Free.

March 21 – Seattle, WA Elliott Bay Book Co. , 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle,WA 98122. 7 PM.  Cheese will be provided by Central Co-op. Free.


Cheddar is now annotated!

I will probably add more pics as I find them, but I just finished annotating every chapter of Cheddar with pictures.  Most of them are my own, taken while visiting cheesemakers and landmarks searching for the meaning of cheddar.

Chapter-by-chapter list is at the bottom of this page check ’em all out at once, or click the appropriate chapter as you read along.