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The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese [Kindle Edition]

Kathe Lison
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.78
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

An Amazon 2013 Best of the Year Pick

The French, sans doute, love their fromages. And there’s much to love: hundreds of gloriously pungent varieties—crumbly, creamy, buttery, even shot through with bottle-green mold. So many varieties, in fact, that the aspiring gourmand may wonder: How does one make sense of it all?

In The Whole Fromage, Kathe Lison sets out to learn what makes French cheese so remarkable—why France is the “Cheese Mother Ship,” in the words of one American expert. Her journey takes her to cheese caves tucked within the craggy volcanic rock of Auvergne, to a centuries-old monastery in the French Alps, and to the farmlands that keep cheesemaking traditions aliveShe meets the dairy scientists, shepherds, and affineurs who make up the world of modern French cheese, and whose lifestyles and philosophies are as varied and flavorful as the delicacies they produce. Most delicious of all, she meets the cheeses themselves—from spruce-wrapped Mont d’Or, so gooey it’s best eaten with a spoon; to luminous Beaufort, redolent of Alpine grasses and wildflowers, a single round of which can weigh as much as a Saint Bernard; to Camembert, invented in Normandy but beloved and imitated across the world.
With writing as piquant and rich as a well-aged Roquefort, as charming as a tender springtime chèvre, and yet as unsentimental as a stinky Maroilles, The Whole Fromage is a tasty exploration of one of the great culinary treasures of France.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

If anyone in America has a right to claim authority on the subject of cheese, author Lison does because she’s a born cheesehead, hailing from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Nevertheless, she herself took cheese pretty much for granted till she touched down in France for the first time. Her travels there took her from one French province to another and to all manner of farms and cheese producers. She learned firsthand the allure of cow cheeses, sheep cheeses, and goat cheeses. She discovered the distinctions that make each of the literally hundreds of French cheeses unique, and, perhaps most important, she learned to judge a cheese’s moment of perfect ripeness. A lot of books have been published about the history, culture, and virtues of France’s cheeses, but this one celebrates the farmers, dairymen, and cheese makers who have established France’s cheeses as still the world’s standard. --Mark Knoblauch


"A mouth-watering read."—New York Post

"An inquisitive romp across France...Rich in storytelling, the book journeys between the historic past and the delicious present in one of the world's most diverse cheese realms. Pick up a copy of The Whole Fromage, and get lost in it."—Culture Magazine 

"From ancient villages to the heights of the Alps, Lison tracks down traditional cheese makers while sampling the fruits of their labors and offering descriptions as full of passion and flavor as the cheeses themselves."—Bask Magazine 

“Kathe Lison proves she is a passionée de fromage with her delightful foray into the French countryside.  From the Loire Valley to the Alpine slopes, Lison’s journey is très amusant… [and] captures a passion of all things fromage.”—Rob Kaufelt, owner of Murray’s Cheese
"Kathe Lison is to French Cheese as Peter Mayle is to life in Provence.  The Whole Fromage reads like a novel- insightful with right amount of humility and humor."—Allison Hooper, owner of Vermont Creamery

“Marvelous. Chockfull of humor, story-telling, passion and adventure, Kathe Lison’s cheese journey through France reads more like a novel than a true story. Plus, it conveys such a 'you are there' feeling that by the time you finish you’ve managed to take an entire trip without leaving your living room.”—Laura Werlin, author of Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials
"In my dreams, I get to do what Kathe Lison has done and tour France in search of cheese epiphanies. In the interim, I have her engaging book, The Whole Fromage, to remind me of the personal stories embedded in each wheel of great cheese." —Janet Fletcher, author of Cheese & Beer and Cheese & Wine

"France is a cheese-driven country, and this book gets right to its pungent, creamy heart." —Stephen Clarke, author of 1000 Years of Annoying the French

"Reading The Whole Fromage is like enjoying an illicit raw-milk Brie. Kathe Lison follows her nose across France to explore the country's wild obsession with cheese…If Joan Didion had fallen tastebuds over heels for French cheese, then she might have written this book." —Tenaya Darlington, author of Di Bruno Bros. House of Cheese
"A thorough, inspired look at France from a devoted and curious cheese lover and writer."—Kirstin Jackson, author of It's Not You, It's Brie

"Kathe Lison's book expresses her loving familiarity with the wonderful and complex world of French cheese. It takes you from the fields where the animals graze, through the creamery, shops and right to your table. Prepare to devoir this book! And prepare to be hungry!" —Lucia Watson, owner of Lucia's Restaurant and co-author of Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland

“Lison seamlessly conveys the experience of tasting the creamy, luscious [Camembert] and its many cousins. Part travelogue, part homage to fromage, Lison's book is informative and endearing and will appeal to foodies, Francophiles, and hungry readers.”—Publishers Weekly

“If anyone in America has a right to claim authority on the subject of cheese, author Lison does...A lot of books have been published about the history, culture, and virtues of France’s cheeses, but this one celebrates the farmers, dairymen, and cheese makers who have established France’s cheeses as still the world’s standard.”—Booklist

“Her curiosity piqued by the multitude of French cheeses, essayist and self-proclaimed cheesehead Lison chronicles her tasty culinary journey exploring the art and science of French cheese making...Whether Lison is ruminating on the short lactation cycle of sheep, the origins of rennet, or the grassy, lemony taste of a spring goat cheese, readers will have all their senses engaged.”—Kirkus

Product Details

  • File Size: 1739 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307452069
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (June 25, 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,024 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great June 20, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lison's tour of the great cheeses of France is a great and fun read. I'm not a connoisseur of cheese (though I do like a good slice of Edam on a burger), so this was an unusual read for me from the start. Kathe Lison, however, made the journey through several varieties of French cheese lively, interesting, and even funny. She has a zest for writing that ought to have even non-cheese specialists reaching for this book.

The book samples a whole range of cheese and also a whole range of experts and stories. In the fourth chapter, for example ("Cheese is a Battlefield"), Lison discusses the place of cheese in wartime. "To French soldiers stuck in the moldering trenches of World War I," she argues, "the simple act of eating Camembert with cheap red wine was a way to connect with the Divine; a makeshift communion ceremony in which the cheese stood in for the wafer." Immediately, the reader is transported to a more desperate, darker time--one not usually associated with gourmet food of any kind--that encourages looking at cheese from a different perspective.

The book is a marvelous, thought-provoking journey that also serves as a great introduction to a more rarefied world left behind closed doors to the millions of people in the US and beyond who eat cheese (of some kind) every day. The only thing that might improve the presentation would be a few illustrations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars French cheese, Mmmm...always hard to beat July 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really liked this book, it starts off with some very interesting history of cheese and cheese making. I tend to collect cheese books because I absolutely love cheese, but many times I have no clue what to pair it with considering the large selection one can find in most good stores these days. I guess simplicity is key but the book explains where the product comes from and what similar items you can eat and drink with it, especially what flavors are pronounced in whatever region it comes in. I've started cooking with Reblochon cheese so reading this book was helpful since French cooking is pretty much my favorite. So many cheese makers out there have their own recipes for use of their cheese, so its good to know what it was intended for and to use that exact type, as it might alter the taste of the item being cooked.

I suggest to read it from cover to end and not skip around since this has a novel format, I'm still going it through it myself, full descriptions are coming up :)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is not a French cheese catalog or guidebook, although there is some of that in it. This is an essay, a paean of all things cheese.
Why does any country need 258 kinds of cheese? In fact, the actual number of French cheeses is one of those mathematical unknowns and it ranges, depending on your source between 227, 350 or more than 650.

Kathe Lison did not set out to taste all of those cheeses. What she wrote is a chronicle of a love story. Of her love of French cheese and her search for truth, cheese truth.

And there is truth in cheese as we will see from perusing the pages of this neat book. There is also a great degree of hype and legend, but underneath it all, there is just milk, and bugs, and hard work.

I would write more but, after reading this book I have an irresistible craving for some Roquefort and I am going to do just that. Eat my Roquefort, and dream about cheese.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For the love of cheese August 3, 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wanted this book as I have a huge love for cheese, cheese of all kinds. It eat cheese almost daily. While I thought this was very well written, I thought it would have been perfect if it had some pictures.

This book made me hungry. I learned a lot about cheese, even though I eat tons I know very little.

If you love cheese, even not as much as me, it's still a good read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Taste Bud's Delight August 1, 2013
Whether you are like me and had to look up the definition of fromage, by the way, that's french for cheese, or you know your cheese and delight in the marvel of this dairy based food, you will enjoy this story. As hard as it is to believe, Ms. Lison has created a novel about cheese. This native of Wisconsin whose great, great grandfather owned a dairy farm dives into the world of french cheese in this easy read. I was sucked into her journey into france, with all its wonderful and varied cheeses. Her descriptions made me long for a smooth and slightly bitter blue cheese, which happens to be one of my favorite. In the "The Whole Fromage," Lison goes way beyond the flavor or texture of cheese and dives into the farmers, dairymen and cheese makers that make up this industry. The reader is taken on a journey through France that features the authors skills in weaving a good story with a bit of humor to entertain, and in the end we learn why French cheese is so incredible.

I cannot fully express how enjoyable this book is, and only on a few other occasions have I learned about a specific topic with such ease and entertainment. Whether or not, you are a cheese lover (isn't everyone?) Ms. Lison will take you on a trip that invokes all of your senses and you'll be glad that you could spend the time traveling with her. What this book is not? An authoritative list of french cheeses. What could make this book better? Pictures.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It reads like a novel
It reads like a novel. I really enjoyed all of the great stories. I only have a minor criticism. She doesn't really differentiate all of the different cheese styles into broad... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Alexander Gashti
3.0 out of 5 stars narrative poor.
Fair. Personal pronoun-heavy; narrative poor.
Published 1 month ago by Naomi Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars A lot of fun
In "The Whole Fromage", Lison sets out to discover why there are so many cheeses in France and why they are so very, very delicious. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Joel Kramer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
A fantastic journey through French cheese and a must read prior to any foodie's next trip to France. very well written.
Published 9 months ago by L. Sugar
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read on French cheesemaking for foodies
Kathe Lison's adventures in French cheesemaking are not only a lesson in the history of several of France's best-known and most beloved cheeses, it is a fun travelogue on the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars A Book on French Cheese - Written By An American - More Entertaining...
It serves to note that this is not a comprehensive reference book on French cheese. Rather, it is a book which provides some history of French cheese and provides limited insight... Read more
Published 10 months ago by alost
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious Cheese
A great book covering a lot of (to the average person) unusual cheeses. France has more varieties of cheese than perhaps any other place on earth - though the US is catching up -... Read more
Published 11 months ago by New England Yankee
4.0 out of 5 stars oh la la...fromage de francais!
I love books that are about just one small topic, like salt or dirt or plastic or cancer. This book is not the exhaustive history on the subject that these other books sometimes... Read more
Published 12 months ago by J-J-J-Jinx!
5.0 out of 5 stars So Readable...
I selected this book to review thinking that it would be readable and an interesting diversion into an aspect of food culture I know little about. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Ashley Mott
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT what I expected
Adventures in the world of cheese?
I was looking forward to photos of an oozing Époisses or a well aged Boule de Lille, with details about taste, texture, paring,... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Shannon Lastowski
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More About the Author

Kathe Lison is the author of The Whole Fromage: Adventures in the Delectable World of French Cheese. A native of Wisconsin, "America's Dairyland," she has a long-reaching history with cheese. Her maternal grandfather kept and milked a herd of Holsteins on a 60-acre farm north of Green Bay, and her great, great-grandfather owned a diary. 

Beyond her Cheesehead lineage, she holds an M.A. in literature and an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. She is an award winning essayist whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals, received mention in Best American Essays and won An Emerging Artist Grant from the Utah Arts Council. A devoted wanderer, in addition to the time she has spent in France, she has lived or traveled extensively in locales such as China, Morocco and Vietnam.


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