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Welcome to Forbidden Fromage


There is a huge universe of cheese out there, and it is our job at culture to cover as much of it as we can. So what do we do? We are indefatigable in our pursuit of cheese. We eat, sleep, and BREATHE cheese. That sounds like paradise to our fellow turophiles, right? It’s pretty great, I’m not going to lie, but it isn’t always a bed of roses. (You know, the breathing cheese part can get a bit foul…)

See, leave it to me to point out the down side of things. I’ve not only got a nose for cheese, but I’ve got a nose for spotting trouble. Maybe it is the analytical problem-solver in me wanting to resolve conflict? Or maybe I’m just not a silver linings kind of woman. All I know is that you can’t always get what you want. Or maybe it is more apt to say it don’t come easy. So this brings me to my question: What happens when freedom of cheese (gasp) is denied?

In the coming weeks I’ll be exploring cheesy taboos and prohibitions, including but not limited to historical and contemporary instances of religious, regulatory, and cultural barriers to the free enjoyment of cheese. In this blog series, cleverly titled “Forbidden Fromage,” I’ll look at everything from navigating kosher restrictions and hip hop MCs’ use of cheese and dairy as metaphors for illicit profit and sex to the paleo diet’s dairy prohibition. You’ll get a little history, religion, pop culture, science, and medicine along the way, as we cover thousands of years in the blink of some blog posts.

Up first? Kosher Konundrum, when I talk about the rules of kashrut, how that has impacted the foodways of European Jewry, and what it means for lovers of aged hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano. Stay tuned!

Johnisha Levi

Johnisha Levi is a Boston-area pastry cook and one of those very rare (think Pegasus) D.C. natives. If ithere's a documentary on food or true crime, chances are that she's seen it (or it's waiting in her Netflix queue). She's a culinary history nerd who is eager to spend her summer at culture learning more about cheese.

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