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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it's still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Cheese Primer Paperback – November 1, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le
"100 Million Years of Food" by Stephen Le
A fascinating tour through the evolution of the human diet, and how we can improve our health by understanding our complicated history with food. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

If you want a fascinating food book, say Cheese Primer. For 20 years, Steve Jenkins has lead the way in upgrading the quality of cheese sold at fine food stores in the U.S. Finally, in this volume, he shares his encyclopedic knowledge. Jenkins tells all about cheesemaking at the commercial as well as the artistic level. Generously punctuated with maps and photos, the book includes all kinds of historical and other relevant information. Jenkins seems to describe every kind of cheese made in the U.S. and Europe, including when to eat them, how and with what. His passion and blunt opinions make it easy to travel the 548 pages of this book if you have even the smallest interest in cheese. The guide to pronunciation is particularly helpful.

From Publishers Weekly

"Once ripened... the inner cheese becomes liquescent, bone-colored, and extraordinarily flavorful... nutty, beefier, and woody, with hints of peat, like a single malt Scotch from Islay. The cheese is tumescent, glistening." It may be cheese to you, but to Jenkins it's a perfect Teleme California cheese originally made by Greek immigrants. In 1973, Jenkins moved to New York City from Missouri to pursue dreams of acting?which explains how he came to run the cheese department at two of New York's gourmet meccas, Dean & DeLuca and Fairway. The first American invited into the the Guilde de St. Uguzon and a Chevalier du Taste-Fromage, Jenkins is really a missionary. After a lesson in cheesemaking from which readers can truly understand why washing the rind or cheddaring makes the end product taste different, Jenkins examines, country by country, the great cheeses of France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Britain, the U.S. and, in one fell swoop, Canada and the rest of the European cheese-making countries. He describes how they are found, served and what makes them great?or not. "Bel Paese," he notes, "is immensely popular because it is very mild (read bland)... I don't recommend it to my customers under any circumstances for any purpose." He takes a similarly unrelenting posture towards young Goudas or Provolones, but most of his ire is aimed at the mass produced cheeses and the misguided government regulations, like the USFDA's refusal to allow the importation of raw milk cheeses aged less than 60 days, that keep Americans ignorant of some of the world's great cheeses. Hence, this volume becomes partly a travel book as Jenkins urges Americans abroad to sample the forbidden. With unflagging enthusiasm and a seemingly endless reserve of information (much offered in boxes and sidebars), The author combines the romance and legend of an ancient craft with addresses, names, recipes and other hard facts. Jenkins employs prose as gloriously redolent, seductive and irresistible as his favorite cheeses to demonstrate how sight, smell and touch can be marshaled in the service of taste. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC featured alternate; 15-city author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company; First Softcover Edition edition (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0894807625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0894807626
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
`Cheese Primer' by a leading American `fromagerie' (sic), Steven Jenkins is a typical Workman Publishing slick treatment of a subject in a relatively inexpensive trade paperback format which is great to look at and promises lots of useful information on it's subject. This, like most of Workman's similar titles largely delivers on its promise, but it does not quite live up to its moniker as a `Primer'. The primary reason for this is that it does live up to the promise that the author is `America's most opinionated authority'.

There is no question that Monsieur Jenkins knows his stuff. He is especially well versed on artisinal cheeses from around the world, especially in France, Italy, Spain, and the United States. In fact, one of the most salutary discoveries in this book is that the good old U. S. of A is developing a really decent artisinal cheese industry, California cows notwithstanding.

The main problem with the book is that it did not answer in a good `Cheese for Dummies' way, some of the primary questions I had about cheese. For example, there was no spiffy table giving the primary characteristics of the world's major cheeses. This is expecially important as France alone, with its more than 400 named types of cheeses have dozens which fall into the same general type. This is expecially important when we find that our A-list cheeses may not be available, but a differently named cheese with very similar properties is available and at a substantially reduced price. The author very accurately states that it is simply not possible to pidgeon-hole all cheeses into particular types, as there is so much overlap. This is why we need a tabular presentation of cheese properties.
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Format: Paperback
If Anthony Bourdain's motto in "A Cook's Tour" is "Eat what the locals eat," the author of "Steven Jenkins Cheese Primer" (no apostrophe) might add the corollary, "Don't eat what the locals eat if you're not where the locals are." For one of the most important, if depressing, pieces of information in this info-packed book is that we in this country are banned, through the wisdom of our government, from eating authentic European cheeses the way they were intended to be eaten (i.e., made from unpasteurized milk). As a result, many "European" cheeses sold in the US, Jenkins tells us, are pallid and bland -- if not downright heretical -- imitations of their European namesakes. If we want to try, for example, a "real" Camembert, we'll just have to wait until we get to France.
(Interestingly, Camembert cheese is not made in the village of Camembert, Jenkins informs us, nor is cheddar cheese made in the English town of Cheddar. Not any more, anyway. And needless to say, "real" cheddar cheese is apparently a very different thing from the mass-produced yellow bricks we find in our grocery store.)
The cover of this book describes Steven Jenkins as "America's most opinionated authority" when it comes to cheese, and I've no doubt that's true. His opinions do in fact come through loud and clear. As with any "authority" on matters of taste, you can give his opinions as much weight as you think they deserve. There's no question, though, that Jenkins is immensely informed about his topic. And if you feel a little self-conscious carrying this Primer to your local *crémerie*, rest assured that it would still be easier than trying to memorize all the facts, tips, recommendations, and warnings the book contains.
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Format: Paperback
I worked as a cheesemonger for five years, have shopped at Mr. Jenkins counter at Fairway in NYC, and have attended American Cheese Society conferences where he has spoken. When I've heard him speak, he has always admitted that there is incorrect and out of date information in this book - it was published in 1996, and since then, some cheeses that were unavailable in the U.S., or only available in pasteurized versions have become available or additionally available in raw milk versions. For example, on p. 159, he states that Bleu d'Auvergne is only made with pasteurized milk. There are versions now that you can buy in the U.S. made with raw milk and have been for at least five years.
It's not a huge problem for a casual reader that there are errors in the book - though some of them are factual, many of them are changes caused by the growth in interest in good cheese in the U.S. Availability is changeable, and we get to eat more delicious treasures because of greater interest in cheeses here in America, which includes the promotion of cheeses by Mr. Jenkins. I've heard that he's working on a second edition, but that was a couple years ago, and a revision of a work like this is certainly a long process.
That being said, the picture on p. 116 *is* captioned incorrectly. The text above the picture is about Emmentaler. A wheel of Emmentaler (originally from Bern, a bulging Swiss cheese with holes produced by the action of innocuous bacteria added to the curd in production and a smooth, brushed rind) is identified as a wheel of Comte (a cheese from the Franche-Comte region of France with a few small holes, and a flat, bumpy, natural brown rind, pictured on p. 114). This is obviously an editing mistake.
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