Cheese, if you haven’t noticed yet, is making headlines. And titles. Our artisan cheese culture is the most vibrant it’s been in decades, and there’s no lack of people who want to taste and read about its many delights, nuances, and history. It’s an exciting cheese world out there, dairy girls and boys, and there are a plethora of books that explore its magnitude. So put down that slice of Alpine-style, pasture-fed raw milk cheese that’s only made from April to October for long enough to pick up one of these reads. Reconsider that slice with one of these books in hand, and you’ll feel closer to that fermented milk than you ever imagined you would.
The following are a few of my favorite Cheese Lit books. When I say “lit,” I mean, well,… non-fiction or memoir styles. I’ve skipped the guidebooks and tutorials this time in favor of books focusing on odes to cheese, history, politics, and homages. These guys may be consulted for some general advice, but they’re overall better for cuddling up with for a good read (cat or dog at feet optional). Cheese guides to come!
Didn’t think you’d ever read about cheese in the BC era? Well, well. Here it is, folks, laid out in all its historical glory. Want to know the origin of Comté, ricotta, or Cheddar? Open Kindstet’s book — it’s the cheese history bible. Fascinating and factual.
“The first taste of autumn for me comes when the cheese table in my shop displays Vacherin Mont D’Or.” How can you not want a book that starts with this line? It’s the ooziest, most loving cheese on the planet, and Michelson admits it right off the bat. The writer and owner of one of the best cheese shops in London follows up with a recipe for this luscious cheese, baked. Such deliciousness repeats.
This fabulous writer and former Murray’s Cheese VP explains why she switched from a comfy desk job to standing long, long hours on her feet rubbing cheese rinds and flipping cheddars beneath the streets of Manhattan. She takes you on trips with her to train French Laundry’s staff. She tells how she fell in love with dairy. And she does it all with beautiful language and humor.
Here’s an author that doesn’t shy away from humor or politics. Edgar explores cheese culture and its reach in society by considering its often hidden role in our lives. He considers conservative versus liberal cheesemakers, bridges the seemingly wide gap between cheese and punk culture, and looks at big farm business in the U.S. Entertaining and informing.
You may not know it yet, but you do want to know about goat’s mating life, trust me. From the point when he learns he needs to bring a stud to the farm in order to get his girls lactating to his making first tome, Kessler details his introduction to farm culture and how he fell in love with the goat. Vivid and heartwarming.
I admit, this is extremely hard to find in English. But it’s worth the hunt for the pictures alone. Gorgeous. And inspired. And I’m still looking for my copy. I’ve only been lucky enough to skim over this one at a friend’s and skim the beautiful photos with my fingertips.
Ed. Note: Do you read about your favorite food? Share your book recommendations below! -KK
Kirstin Jackson is a professionally trained cook, wine bar manager and cheese program director, food and wine writer, consultant, and instructor, whose fridge and head is almost entirely consumed with cheese. Her cheese blog, “It’s Not You, It’s Brie,” was launched in April 2009, and has since received accolades from Blogs.com, Foodista, and Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchen. Her first book, It's Not You, It's Brie: Unwrapping America's Unique Culture of Cheese published in 2012.