Tag Archives: cheesemonger — the book

Seattle revisited with pictures

Well, that was exhausting. Six events and a radio show in four days and four cities. 2000 miles of driving, one flooded trunk, a lot of bad road food, and one solicitation for clean urine at a rest stop. Whoo and Hoo!

I know I did a couple of updates form the road, but now I have pictures. You love pictures don’t you?

First I hit the Seattle Cheese Festival. I came up with a brilliant idea the next time I do a fest where everyone else has actual samples of cheese. I’m going to print out my manuscript, cut out sentences, and put them in a bowl marked free samples. That way when drunk people ask, “Where are your samples?” I’ll have something to give them.

Here’s my Seattle Cheese Fest table. Looks nice, eh? (Thanks Laurie!)

I was thrilled to read at the new Elliott Bay. So new you could smell the paint! Friends from all over (high school, college, LJ and cheese!) showed up and I was very grateful. I did what will probably be the only encore in my life and I have a friend’s 8-year-old to thank.

This doesn’t look like I’m droning on or anything, does it?
me reading

The event was actually put on by an old punk rocker who was shocked I knew of her band, Conflict (from Tuscon, not that other one from England). Heck, I’ll do better than that. Here they are on the internet. Oh, and
here are some Conflict MP3s
to listen to while reading the rest of this entry.

Oh, except that’s pretty much the end of the entry. Just this awesome picture of me and three local Seattle cheesemongers.

Roger (from Central Co-op’s Madison Market), me, Shari (from Calf and the Kid), and Julia (Metropolitan Market)
4 cheese folks

See you in August, Seattle.

The dumbest question I have been asked so far

“So, you hired a ghostwriter, right?”

This was not a question I expected. I’m a worrier. I worried about all sorts of things people could ask me when I went out on the road with the book. Mostly I figured the stumpers would be farming or cheesemaking details that I’m not an expert on. Things like, “How do you prevent frothy bloat?”*,“What is the optimal pH for Mozzarella?”**or “What is the current somatic cell count limit on fluid milk?”***

Still I was a little prepared for this question because someone else had asked earlier in the day. I attributed that to nervous blurting,**** — god knows I do that myself – when that person was suddenly confronted with a book for sale in the middle of the Oregon Cheese Festival.***** However, when asked a second time in an hour, I started to get mad.

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

“My husband is a freelance writer. I know how it is.”

The Oregon Cheese Festival is amazing in many ways, but one which I didn’t appreciate until that moment was their wristband system. I had not attended previously, so I don’t know if there were problems in the past, but each adult wristband had 10 wineglasses printed on them. When an attendee gets a drink, the wine pourer checks one off. I looked at this woman’s wrist. 12 Noon… 7 drinks. And that didn’t count the beer she was holding.

She had already mentioned that she worked at a large retail chain (not grocery) that sells food. The best thing I could come up with in my head is that she was so immersed in the world where someone wouldn’t do anything unless there was a profit to be made. That I would write a book because it would be fun, educational, and fulfill a lifelong dream really didn’t seem to be on her radar. No, this had to be about brand positioning. Either I needed a book to increase the profile of our store or for me to get my shot at the Food Network. Clearly having a book isn’t about writing a book in her world. It’s only about self-promotion. Why would I waste time actually writing it?

I did the obvious thing. I brought Laurie into it.

I turned to Laurie who was standing right next to me but had been talking to someone else and hadn’t heard my conversation. “Hey, Laurie, this woman just asked if I hired a ghostwriter.”

“What? I think she’s saying that you look too stupid to write a book,” Turning to the question asker, “Are you calling him stupid?”

She started to respond but we just kept loudly saying, “Ghostwriter?” laughing and mocking her question until she walked away.

Here I am at the Oregon Fest looking too stupid to write my own book. I even wore a shirt with a collar on it. Geez.

*Making sure your ruminant is eating dry feed as well as high moisture forage
**from 5.0 – 5.2 if I understand Paul Kindstedt correctly
****not related to frothy bloat.

My first reading

My close friends know that I’m actually a very nervous person, especially around public events. I mean, even more than most people. I would go far as to say I’m deeply neurotic about it. I can talk to strangers over the cheese counter all day, but speaking in public makes me lose sleep for weeks ahead of time. I honestly thought my body might just spontaneously explode a number of times in the days leading up to last Thursday. I might have created medical history if Laurie hadn’t been there to constantly talk me down. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

When I was writing the book, I never really thought about promoting the book. Sure, in some abstract sense I envisioned being in a bookstore, and the book being there, and somehow it selling and everyone would be happy, but I didn’t really think about reading from my own writing – in public – over and over again. There’s an odd contrast to my writing style: sitting alone in my dirty, cramped “office” for two years avoiding friends, and the everybody-come! nature of public event promotion.

Last Thursday was my first reading ever, for anything. I attended a local Open Mic for years and watched my friends perform without ever feeling the need to do it myself but you know, if you put out a book, you have to support it.

The reading was at 7 PM and, of course Laurie and I got there way early. At around 6:30 we walked into Books Inc. Berkeley. There was no one there I recognized. Actually, that’s not right. That implies that there were people there… There were four Books Inc. workers and possibly two browsers* in the historical autobiography section. I was absolutely convinced in that moment that this would be the worst night of my life.

There is something freeing about that. I actually started to get less nervous. I think it’s worse to be the organizer than the “performer” at an event that no one shows up to. I once put on a punk show at Epicenter for one of my favorite SF bands, one that played the very first real punk show I went to. I thought their reunion show would organize itself and people would be super excited to see them. Unfortunately I forgot that much of the SF punk scene at that time were people who grew up outside the Bay Area – or too young to have heard of them — and no one cared. The night of the show I was calling all my friends – even if they hated punk — begging them to come because I was so embarrassed. The band wasn’t happy, but they were nice. “We’ll just treat it like a practice,” and they did, playing an awesome set of early ‘80s punk to the four of us.

I thought, ok… payback time. I had no idea that Frightwig had such karmic pull.

At about 6:45 though, people started to arrive. Then more people came. Then more… People from all over my life (kinda like the book itself): my brother, high school friends, late ‘80s punk friends, cheese distributors, co-workers, zine friends, even my 8th grade creative writing teacher!** More people than I ever imagined showed up and I am deeply grateful. The reading went well (so people told me) and there was cheese (Thanks Sheana!)

Here I am in action:
books inc

It was such a relief to get this out of the way. Only about another 15 events to go… Time to start getting nervous again.

Next up March 13, San Francisco(at Amnesia Bar, hosted by Modern Times)*** and March 14, Marin (Book Passage in Corte Madera). Cheese will be served.

*Browser is a funny word. Here of course it means bookstore lurker. For most people its that thing that gets them to their websites. For dairy people it means grazing mammal. Just thought I’d throw that out there.
**He was an awesome teacher and facebook just reconnected us. I actually use him as an example when I try to talk about Prop 13 to people. An awesome writing teacher, he also was my pre-algebra teacher because after Prop 13, the public schools had to do mass firings of teachers and press other teachers into classes they were not trained for. He valiantly tried to stay a day ahead of us in the text book, but math really wasn’t his thing. He’d often come in and start the day by saying, “Ok, I taught you something wrong yesterday…” and re-do the lesson.
*** I believe we will be giving out The Cooperative 7” records with every purchase here. We are also working on a contest with prizes, but no promises

Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge is on the shelf and for sale at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative

book at rainbow

Just call me Babs

I have to get back to the Food Show, but hey, I got an awesome review from Jeanne Carpenter on “Cheese Underground” blog.

Not only does she call me the Barbara Mandrell of the cheese counter, but who could ask for better praise than this:

I bought and sped read his book last week as a writing assignment for a magazine and have to admit I was not looking forward to it, as I’ve really started dreading reading cheese books. Most of the cheese guides hitting the book stores these days are full of pretentious verbiage written by people who assume that by reputation alone, they are THE authority on cheese.

Not Gordon.

I’m totally gonna start putting peanuts in my Coke.

Books are shipping!

Hey everybody, I have gotten word that the pre-ordered books are shipping (at least from Chelsea Green). I know some of you have had them pre-ordered since September 2008, so just know they will likely be in your hot, little hands by early next week. Thanks for being so patient.

I set up a facebook for the book to keep people updated on
Cheesemonger: ALOTW events
. Events will also be posted on Gordonzola.net

As always you can order direct from Chelsea Green, from Amazon, or pre-order from the bookstore of your choice (like your neighborhood worker-cooperative perhaps)

Sorry for such an all-business post. I’ll return to more sarcasm and mockery soon. After all, the Fancy Food Show is next week… how can I resist?


Wow. I have to admit that after my experience with the publisher-who-was-supposed-to-publish-my-book-last year-but-never-did, I didn’t really expect my book to come out when Chelsea Green (my current publisher) said it would. And it won’t. No, It’s coming out early!

Very soon, in fact… less than three weeks! In time to be available at Eco-Farm one of the best organic-oriented farming conferences in the country. I don’t know if I can make it down there, but my book will!

I also have a whole slew* of events (bottom right corner of page) coming up. Dudes, I have to admit I’m getting nervous.

cover pic

Holy crap, that’s me!

*I always want to say “slough” of events. It seems more evocative. Especially if you’ve spent any time at all in, or on, an actual slough.

As always you can order direct from Chelsea Green, from Amazon, or pre-order from the bookstore of your choice (like your neighborhood worker-cooperative perhaps)

It’s getting close

Ok, ok. It’s almost real. Look what came in the mail yesterday. I am holding it so you can see it’s really in book form even though these are only advance reading copies*:
it's real!

But it’s not yet a real book! Don’t quote from it! It’s not corrected! Not for resale! (Oh look, I left a little of the label on that Mimolette. Oops) Pre-orders should go out in the beginning of February.**

It’s pretty amazing to hold this in my hands. Whoo-hoo!

*(By the way, happy birthday Myleen! You take awesome photos!)

**As always you can order direct from Chelsea Green, from Amazon, or pre-order from the bookstore of your choice (like your neighborhood worker-cooperative perhaps)

I’ve got an index!

Long before I ever thought about writing a book I was fascinated by indexes. I realize now that I have always wanted to read a history of indexes: how themes are chosen, the hidden politics of indexing, unsung heroic indexers etc. Is there one out there?

Of course this realization was spawned by the fact that I just found out that I’m getting an index. I know it makes sense, I just hadn’t thought about it! To me this is much more exciting that the cover finally being chosen.

I mean, check out this snippet:

Reagan, Ronald, 82–83, 96–98, 189–190, 195–196
Reblochon, 92
recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), 26, 74, 84–87, 94
Red Hawk, 134, 180, 184
rednecks, 41–42
Redwood Hill Farm, 44, 55–56, 88, 141, 151
rennet, 5, 93–96

That is a better advertisement for the book than anything I can come up with. My only regret is that I didn’t somehow incorporate The Rezillos into the manuscript. That would have made this little index cross section even better.

Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge

Ok, People keep asking when the book is coming out so here it is. Not available until March, but it’s never too early to pre-order. And check out the new low cover price since we’ve done away with the pretentious hard cover edition. 😉

cover pic
(Photo by awesome local photographer Myleen Hollero)

You can order direct from Chelsea Green.

Or from the bookstore of your choice (like your neighborhood worker-cooperative perhaps)

For some reason, Amazon is the only place that is posting the blurbs (though I have a few more now) and they are pretty good.

OK, self-promotion time is over (for the day).