To say that humans and cheese have had a long
and loving relationship is a bit of an
understatement. Since time immemorial,
we’ve been coaxing curds and whey into a
mind-boggling array of fantastic cheeses, fresh, aged,
and at times freakish.
Today on Cutting the Curd, we have the privilege of talking with professor Paul Kinstedt about his new book‘Cheese & Culture’ which will make its debut in March of this year from Chelsea Green Publishing. The book chronicles our rich and buttery cheese history, all the way back to the fertile crescent. Here are some of our favorite historical accounts of famous cheesemakers and cheese eaters that you may not (or may very well have!) heard before, compliments of Mr. Kindstedt’s research…
|Monster or Cheesemaker?
In Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’
Odysseus and his crew land on
the isle of Sicilyin search of the
feared and terrible Cyclops.
They galumph around for a
while until they find his dwelling
place which, SURPRISE! is home
to a tidy little cheesemaking
operation. The heroes hide out in
the cave untilthe Cyclopsreturns
(as my sister Megan
would say,a potentially bad life
choice) but luckily for them, the monster doesn’t
see them and begins his daily ritual of making cheese, coagulating the curd and pressing it into woven baskets.
Moral of the story:
Don’t hate on monsters. They like cheese too!
Fast forward to France in the year AD 800-ish.
The Emperor Charlemagne and his entourage are
trekkingthrough France, probably en route to some
medieval military special ops. They get waylaid,
and stop at a monastery for the night. The abbot,
being rightly surprised by their arrival, is forced to
make a fancy dinner party on the fly.
(Remember this story the next time you’re stressed
about people coming over for dinner… at least
they’re not Charlemagne.) Now, it being a last minute thing,
and the fact being that good Catholics don’t eat meat on
certain days made for a pretty tough dinner order for the
abbot to fill. He sagely concluded that they’d serve cheese
for dinner, and brought out a stinky wheel of something
or other for the nobility to enjoy.
|Why didn’t I eat the rind?!
So, the story goes that Charlemagne
dug into the cheese with great relish,
cutting off the rind and scooping out
the gooey paste within. The abbot
watched in dismay, and after a few
more bites, dared to inquire what in
the heck the Emperor thought he was
doing. In a nice way of course. The
gist of the conversation was
something like this:
‘Why are you cutting off the rind, sir?
Don’t you know that’s the best part?!’
Moral of that story: Eat the rind.
Monks know a thing or two about cheese.
Tune in to Cutting the Curd today from 5:30 to 6:00 for a
sneak peak at this incredible new book, and stay tuned for
an NYC book release party with Saxelby Cheesemongers!
Till next week, eat cheese and be merry!
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