cover image Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese

Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese

Eric LeMay, Free Press, $22 (256p) ISBN 9781439153048

Even readers who don't know their comté from their Kraft Single may find cheese enthusiast Eric LeMay's poetic if melodramatic coverage as rich and unctuous as the subject itself. A former Harvard writing instructor with an MFA, LeMay embarks on a quest to learn more about cheese – how it's made, who makes it, and why it's so delicious. Taking both the high road (an elegant vacherin) and the low (cheese curds), his egalitarian approach brings welcome relief to an arena known for snobbery. But LeMay's penchant for purple prose irritates as much as it informs; his gift for poetic description is the next best thing to tasting the cheese itself, BUT his literary pretensions can get the best of him ("The curds have no heft, only a tingle of softness, like you've lathed your hand in the warm breath under Salome's veils"). If readers can get past LeMay's preoccupation with Proust, they'll find his linguistic gymnastics and narrative detours (the origin of the term "cheesy;" the science behind taste; charming accounts of halting conversations with fromagers in their native French) to be a warm, even gooey, appreciation of a much-loved and often misunderstood food. (Jun.)