Why Would Anyone Write About Cheese?

I’ve read about everyday objects before. Several showed how books are made. Others explored the possible identities of “Anonymous” as authors and artists.

I also recall Henry Petroski’s 1992 tome The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance. Who knew that there were so many riveting facts about pencils? Though they seem boring, these items are still useful to have around for filling out forms, taking tests, writing drafts, or creating art. A #2 pencil is often the best to write with. When my seventh-grade English teacher required us all to write everything in pen, I never looked back. Ink flows better than pencil lead, and makes my hand less tired.

So, when I learned about Eric LeMay’s Immortal Milk: Adventures in Cheese, I was skeptical, because I really didn’t think there was much to include about the subject. Some topics don’t lend themselves to a book. When I wrote an article on wind chimes last summer, I went to the library and asked the reference librarian (without much hope) for a book on the history of them. After scanning the catalog, Web, and Amazon.com  for a few minutes, the reference librarian started laughing and said, “Sorry. That book has yet to be written.” So, I found sources through other means, and the feature was published.

Even though cheese might seem boring, in LeMay’s hands readers learn surprising things. For example, making Stilton cheese was once illegal in England. If you really give a damn which cheeses and wines go together, or other ways to serve cheese, this book is for you. Readers will enjoy tagging along with LeMay and his friend Chuck (a woman) as LeMay conducts research. Yes, it includes taste tests).

For those of us who have had to cut back on or eliminate cheese from our diets, this book is difficult, because you will start to crave brie, Swiss, edam, gouda, Monterey Jack, and others. But it’s still fun.


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