I’m finishing up a week of traveling the fjords and roads of Norway, trying to scope out the cheese scene in this country better known for salmon and sweaters. One of the first things I discovered on my Scandinavian beat is that the average Norwegian refers to her/his cheese by color: they have their white cheese, their yellow cheese, some blue cheese, and plenty of brown cheese. Color indicts familiar supermarket cheese. They know, for instance, what to expect from a slice of white cheese.
Hola from Spain! I landed this morning in Barcelona and was then taxied to the town of Vic, an hour northwest of Barcelona for Lactium 2011—a gathering of Spanish cheesemakers and street cheese fare. As one of the fortunate invitees of this event, I get be to part of the “Super Jury,” a group of 34 international judges who will name The Best Catalan Cheese on Saturday. The festival begins tomorrow, May 6, when market stalls on the wide boulevard, Rambla del Carme fill up with cheesemakers and the contest ensues. Eyewitness reports on that to come. . .
At 8:30 this morning I took my seat in a classroom at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese (on the campus of UVM in Burlington), to start the first of a four-day- cheesemaking intensive course. This education for me is long overdue. As the editor of culture magazine, I’ve learned a lot on the job about what makes one wheel different from another, but there are big gaps in my cheese intelligence. What really happens (on a microbial level) when milk, starter, coagulant and a cheesemaker come together in a creamery? It was time I knew.
I just got this inspiring little blog from Anya, a young contributor to our magazine:
Hello my name is Anya Firisen. I am ten years old and I wanted to make cheese. I thought that cheese making was interesting because I love cheese and I love to cook. So I thought, well why don’t I try to make the cheese that I love so much. So when my Mom got my Dad a book called “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll for his birthday, I really wanted to try it for myself. My Mom said, “You and Anya can make cheese together!” When we went over to our friends’ house their mom said “I booked a cheese making class but now I can’t go, do you want to go in my place?” Of course I said yes.
Originally published in culture's winter 2010 issue
One of the UK’s biggest newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, recently ran a short column titled, “Blessed Are the British Cheesemakers.” Having tasted many cheeses from Britain, I was prepared to cheer the essay based on the title alone. My goodwill quickly deflated, however, once I read the first paragraph. The writer—award-winning journalist and editor Clive Aslet—started his homage to British cheesemakers by first trampling on American ones, claiming, “I couldn’t live in the [United States] because of the cheese. America seems unable to cope with this most glorious of foods, both a staple which fills the sandwich and a luxury that enchants the epicure.”