I really, really wanted to love Gordon Edgar's Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge. But alas, it was not to be.
Edgar, who works as the cheese buyer and expert (or "cheesemonger," as he calls it) at the Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco, relates the story of how he learned to know and love cheese through his job there. In various chapters he describes the arc of his career, but the bulk of the narrative is given over to a very detailed consideration of all sorts of cheese, cheese production methods, cheese producers, and really, all things cheese.
Now, I love memoirs about people's jobs. I like reading about food. I enjoy cheese. But I just couldn't get into this one. I think it was too many paragraphs like this:
"There are differences in the components of feed-based milk and pasture-based milk. Feed-based milk is higher in protein and fat because those are desirable properties in milk, especially milk for cheese, and the animals are fed accordingly. However, recent studies have shown that grazed cows have two to five times more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than other cows. Some preliminary studies have shown that CLA may be an effective cancer inhibitor." (p. 31.)
Now that's good information,* and someday when I'm in the mood and I want to learn more about cheese I may try this book again. I think this was simply a case of wrong expectations: I was expecting more of a lighthearted romp about food and retail and cheese (something along the lines of Steven Jenkins's The Food Life: Inside the World of Food with the Grocer Extraordinaire at Fairway), but it's much more than that. If you're a cheese lover, and interested in learning a lot more about cheese? Then this is the book for you.
*A little later on in the book he includes some great information about raw milk and raw milk cheeses, which is pertinent information to me because my home state, Wisconsin, is currently debating if it should be legal to sell raw (unpasteurized) milk.