Monday, February 13, 2012

Cheese and Culture!

This 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.

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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Tune in to Cutting the Curd
every Monday
from 5:30-6:00pm
on the
 Heritage Radio Network,
or download the show as a
podcast and listen anytime!

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