American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World

Joe Berkowitz. Harper Perennial, $16.99 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-06293-489-5
Berkowitz’s relationship with dairy proves to be obsessive in this exposé that reveals the hidden, overlooked, or simply ignored world of artisanal cheeses, the mongers who love them, and the gatherings that celebrate their abundance. Berkowitz (You Blew It) provides a brief history of cheese carts, reveals that New York City’s famous Murray’s Cheese shop has a secret volunteer program to help with their cheese classes, and chronicles the 2018 Cheesemonger Invitational held in Brooklyn. In Austin, Tex., he visits the Cheeselandia exhibit at the 2019 SXSW festival with its “fondue pots simmering like unoccupied Jacuzzis.” He travels California’s Cheese Trail of some 83 creameries and farms, and sits down at Wisconsin’s Center for Dairy Research for a hard look at curds. In Philadelphia, he attends the Cheese Ball, that city’s “largest cheese party,” an affair hosted by an influencer who calls herself Madame Fromage. Indeed, cheese has always provided a healthy environment for low comedy, and Berkowitz cannot resist flavoring his authoritative knowledge with playful turns of phrase. More endearing is the “nasal distress” caused by his less-than-expert nose for aromas, and the “existential cheese crisis” he experiences after realizing his vegetarianism might be good news for milk cows, but baby male cows pay the price by being raised for beef or veal. Ripe with fresh perspectives, this well-molded collection is a delight. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/24/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-293490-1
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