Reader beware: the photographs in Cheeses of the World
are so gorgeous, you might be tempted to eat the page. If, however, you and the book survive that first delirious onslaught of full color Camemberts, Bries and Parmesans, there's plenty of food for thought to keep you entertained (if slightly hungry). Here is the complete history of some two hundred cheeses from thirty-seven different countries. Starting with antiquity, the book explores the evolution of cheese, how it developed and diversified, and how it is made--both the traditional and industrial methods of production.
Sections describe the history of cheese, the rules governing its production in the modern world, and how it's classified. Cheeses of the World then divides its remaining chapters into regions: Northern Europe, France, Central Europe, Lands of the Sun, and New Worlds. Each section discusses the particular cheeses native to that area, amply illustrated with photographs, reproductions, and drawings. This is the book for cheese lovers.
Nantet and his collaborators, ably assisted by photographer Jean-Pierre Dieterlen, produce a paean to, purportedly, the world's different cheeses; but really they concentrate on Old World cheese history, manufacturing techniques, and classifications. Though some bias exists (most notably about the protection of European agriculture), the majority of the text straightforwardly describes over 700 cheeses in 37 different countries, each entry including an overture about the cheese's specific provenance, as well as details on shape, weight, type, and maturation process. Sandwiched in between this categorization process are illustrations, old and new, and the myths surrounding this milk-based product. Unfortunately, short shrift is given to the innovations of the New World, including Australia, New Zealand, and Central and South America. Barbara Jacobs