Monday, January 07, 2008

Saxelby Cheesemongers Required Reading

This Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers

Saxelby Cheesmongers gets bookish this week with our list of required reading. It seems like there are a proliferation of food books out there, but some particularly inspiring ones spring to mind for you foodish booky folks out there. We all have our own particular favorites, and this list is by no means exhaustive, but these are some books that have provided me with much food for thought over the past couple of years. Pull up a chair and a good piece of cheese and nosh on some knowledge this week!

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

For anyone who hasn't yet read this book, whoa. You are in for a treat. A whirlwind spectacular view of our current food system as seen through four separate meals. Mr. Pollan jumps from a McDonald's meal inhaled in the back of his car to a meal entirely foraged by him in his native Northern California. Along the way, he provides much insight as to how our food system works, and how our seemingly limitless choices in the grocery store today aren't so limitless after all.


The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman

The maitre fromager of Picholine and Artisanal speaks up, without the slightest twinge of snobbery, on the virtues of our favorite dairy-derived comestible. Cheese. This book is a real page turner (remember this is coming from a cheese geek), and takes the reader on a nice little ramble through the different styles of cheese, complete with historical anecdotes, and serving and pairing suggestions. The Cheese Plate doesn't read like an encyclopedia, rather it serves as a field guide and novel to some of the world's tastiest cheeses as seen through the eyes of someone who got hit, hard, by the cheese cupid's arrow.


The Taste of America by John and Karen Hess

Written in the seventies, I found this book very much by accident while combing the aisles of the Blue Smock Shop, a thrift store institution in the town where I grew up. The cover wasn't beguiling, in fact I have no idea why I picked it up in the first place, but man am I glad I did! This little book was my first glimpse into the wonderful history of American cookery and regional food traditions, and the systematic levelling out of said traditions over the past generation by strip mall food-ism and the taste bud-washing of industrial agriculture. Karen and John Hess write with biting wit and humor about the state of the Union's pantries, and what we, as eaters, can do about it.


The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese by Jeff Roberts

A thick and thorough guide book to our American cheese makers, from Alaska to Maine. Mr. Roberts chronicles each region of the country, profiling cheese makers and their farms. The Atlas is the perfect thing to throw in your car should you ever feel inclined to take a cheesy little trip of your own.


The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry

An amazing treatise-cum-prophecy written by Mr. Berry in the seventies, when our food system was summitting the agribusiness Everest, so to speak. Berry argues for the preservation of the small way of doing things, from communities to farms to jobs. In a nutshell, Berry's vision of staying small maintains integrity because folks are held accountable for their actions and their actions' impact on the community and environment in which they live. Very potent and very inspiring stuff.


Happy page-turning, and don't forget the snacks. That's what we're here for...

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