The Cheese Chronicles by Liz Thorpe
May 7, 2010
Guest Book Review by The Lady
I have never reviewed a book, even though I have literally read thousands of them over my lifetime. I began an Excel File in 2000 of the books I read and when I hit 1500 (in early 2008) I told The Man it was time for me to come out of early retirement and return to the working world. Little did I know at that time, my new journey would allow me to spend five blissful days every week in the cheesemines.
Even at home, my “home” office is cluttered with all kinds of “cheesy” things: books, cheese journals, logo aprons and hats, charts, photos, magazines. I even have a cheesy mouse pad…
A cousin and aunt gave me a gift card for Barnes and Noble last Christmas. I bought cheese books and one was The Cheese Chronicles by Liz Thorpe. Over the past three months (I only had time during my lunches), I have read and savored her journey discovering American Cheesemakers.
Because I had never written a review, I read several reviews of this book and was surprised at some of the garbage that folks decided to include. I even found comments criticizing Liz because she went to Yale… translation: “just a rich girl with parents to bankroll her cushy life”. The internet is a wonderful tool but it also gives the “tools” of the world a worldwide canvas to be jackasses…
I love this book. The excitement Liz feels when a new cheese comes her way is contagious. It’s an excitement that most dedicated cheesemongers feel. An excitement that hopefully will never go away for Liz, me and all the other cheesemongers who bring cheese to life for the everyday folks who love good food. It’s an excitement that I try to convey when telling customers that No Woman is named after the song and is NOT a sexist cheese or how Roth-Kase convinced the FDA to let them use copper vats to make Gruyere.
I fell into cheesemongering and Liz did as well. When I heard about the cheese kiosk going into my store, I thought it would be “cool” to work there. Liz thought talking about cheese at cocktail parties would be “cool”. Absolutely!! At least two or three times a week, a customer will say to me, “You have the coolest job”… and they are right. Liz began on the counter at Murray’s and has risen to Vice President there and everyone (even those only remotely interested) in the cheese world knows of Murray’s Cheese Shop in the West Village of Manhattan. (When I die, I hope to have my ashes sprinkled over Murray’s… just kidding… sort of…)
Liz’s excitement carried me through the book; page-after-page; cheese-after-cheese. I loved her honesty in admitting she showed up hung-over to make cheese and lost her cookies when the smell of fresh milk and the warm humidity of the cheese room hit her “full frontal”. I love hearing how Ig Vella had her totally intimidated when they first met and her journey to the Amish country of Pennsylvania. Liz lays her heart out there and you know she loves sharing her life in cheese.
There are so many favorite parts in this book; but my number one favorite is reading the stories of the ladies in the early 80s who started making cheese and how they made their marks and brought American Cheesemaking to the fore-front of America’s food culture.
Liz loves her job and you see it on every page of this book as she takes us through the challenging and fulfilling world of cheesemaking in America.
Liz is “cool” and so is her book.