Week at Saxelby Cheesemongers: Cheese & Culture! Paul Kinstedt's
11,000 year History of Cheese on Cutting the Curd... Plus Saxelby's Less
Scholarly Favorite Historical Anecdotes From the Aforementioned Text.
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.
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!
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?!
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.
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!
offers a premier selection of American farmstead cheese, focusing on cheeses produced in the Northeastern United States. Co-owners Anne Saxelby and Benoit Breal pride themselves on selecting cheeses from small producers who farm sustainably with respect for their land and animals. The range of cheeses available at Saxelby Cheesemongers changes throughout the year as we work with and celebrate the seasonal nature of cheesemaking.