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Writer’s Whey: The final word on cheese

Each week, culture intern Katherine will scour great works of literature for all the cheesy details your English teacher never showed you. Authors often include mentions of food and drink in their written works to give the reader a small glimpse into the culture and historic foodways of a particular place and era. This blog series will lend readers a helping hand and shed some light on the cheeses between the lines of the literary greats. Also, each week you’ll have a chance to win a special issue of culturemagazine. Last week’s winner was Melissa T.!


The time has come for Writer’s Whey, as it does for all good books, to end. Over the past few weeks we’ve read about many fantastic literary cheeses and their caseophilic authors. We learned that Mr. Darcy probably used a type of Cheshire or another traditional English cheddar when making toasted cheese for his genteel guests. And, that Ishmael dined on fine Dutch cheeses as he sailed aboard the great whaling ship, the Pequod. We even discovered that the Odyssey contains a possible origin story for our favorite salty Greek cheese, Feta.

A literal cheese library — photo by Tillamook

From Melville to Austen, Shelley to Dickens, Writer’s Whey picked apart these authors’ works to find the juicy topics like literary history, regional cheese making techniques, and historical consumer trends. Through these great novels we learned about regional and historical foodways and found a few literary cheeses in our very own cheese library.

photo by Round Trip Ticket

As it turns out, reading great literary works is vastly improved when searching the margins for mentions of cheese and other delectable edibles. So share these stories with your high school English teacher, maybe they’ll let you host a cheese tasting lesson alongside your next chapter of the Scarlet Letter. Already graduated? Then remember this cheesy lesson next time you head to the library: A good cheese is only a read away.

photo by Formaggio Kitchen

We’ll leave you with a few literary cheese puns to tide you over till you can make your way to the nearest bookshop:

All’s Quiet on the Western Fontina

Shakespeare’s Ham-and-cheese-let

The Velveeta Rabbit

Ethan Fromage

The Little House on the Dairy series

Share your thoughts and comments below!

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