Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge
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Witty and irreverent, informative and provocative, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge is the highly readable story of Gordon Edgar's unlikely career as a cheesemonger at San Francisco's worker-owned Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. A former punk-rock political activist, Edgar bluffed his way into his cheese job knowing almost nothing, but quickly discovered a whole world of amazing artisan cheeses. There he developed a deep understanding and respect for the styles, producers, animals, and techniques that go into making great cheese.
With a refreshingly unpretentious sensibility, Edgar intertwines his own life story with his ongoing love affair with cheese, and offers readers an unflinching, highly entertaining on-the-ground look at America's growing cheese movement. From problem customers to animal rights, business ethics to taste epiphanies, this book offers something for everyone, including cheese profiles and recommendations for selecting the very best-not just the most expensive-cheeses from the United States and around the world and a look at the struggles dairy farmers face in their attempts to stay on and make their living from the land.
Edgar-a smart, progressive cheese man with an activist's edge-enlightens and delights with his view of the world from behind the cheese counter and his appreciation for the skill and tradition that go into a good wedge of Morbier.
Cheesemonger is the first book of its kind-a cheese memoir with attitude and information that will appeal to everyone from serious foodies to urban food activists.
coherence guaranteed by a group of ever-changing, unpaid volunteers living in an expensive city, the Epicenter Zone was a home base designed to incite others to political education and action. Still, after a few years in San Francisco, the revolution hadn’t found me, and since I couldn’t seem to find it, I started imagining how I could make a living that didn’t make me hate myself and everyone around me. I had never liked office work, and I figured out quickly that I wasn’t very good as the type
however, were dismayed by our selection and didn’t want to go elsewhere just to buy cheese. They would make mysterious suggestions: Basque sheep cheese, Goat Gouda, handmade French Brie. The names were all new to me in those days. We tried to sell some of these seemingly exotic cheeses, and the experience was certainly important in my development as a cheesemonger. There is no substitute for working hands-on with as many different cheeses as possible. While bringing in new and unfamiliar
at parties away from the expensive stuff. Why? Because many people love it. It was the wrong guess. One of the many cheese books I own is The Specialty Cheese Shop Manual. Published in 1981 to encourage people to open cheese stores and increase business for Gourm-E-Co Imports, the publisher, it actually has many helpful tips. Unfortunately, it also contains some who-the-hell-wrote-this gems like, “The major customers of specialty cheese shops are the higher-educated, more affluent and better
as I don’t have a boss. It’s a one-on-one performance, really. Crowds make me nervous; the cheese doesn’t. It’s often said that food brings people together. That’s becoming a trite-ism because it just as surely sets them apart. Organics, kosher, halal, vegetarian, vegan, artisanal—some people can choose food as a lifestyle or as part of a belief system and be every bit as elitist or wall-building as any snarly teen punk rocker could hope to be. But there is a power in the love of food and in
workplace, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, members of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and others. Culture: A culture is bacteria added to the milk to create a chemical reaction beneficial to the cheese. The culture determines the acidity level of the milk, the way the milk coagulates, the texture of the curds (and therefore the cheese), the taste, the moisture level, and the way the cheese ages. Culture, secondary: Not the culture responsible for determining the main formation of the