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Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and its Place in Western Civilization Hardcover – April 1, 2012
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In this scholarly yet accessible history of cheese, noted food scientist Kindstedt plumbs the very earliest evidence of cheese making. Beginning in the shadowy Neolithic era, improving climatic conditions encouraged sheep and goat herding throughout the Fertile Crescent. Manufacture of pottery made possible the storage of excess milk and provided a transportation medium. Primitive acid-coagulated cheeses emerged for local consumption, but the discovery of rennet coagulation made possible hard cheeses with long shelf lives that could readily be shipped across land and sea. During the Middle Ages, innovative European monastic communities developed sophisticated techniques that generated a tremendous diversity of cheeses. Cheddar and Stilton shone in England, France became famous for its Roquefort and Gruyère, and Holland marketed Gouda and Edam. Colonization of the New World and the Industrial Revolution gave rise to today’s mass-produced cheeses, not always to the benefit of quality or flavor. --Mark Knoblauch
"All honor and respect to Aristaious -- the Greek god who taught us to make cheese -- and to Paul Kindstedt, who in Cheese and Culture teaches us its glorious history ever since."--Rob Kaufelt, proprietor, Murray's Cheese NYC
"From the Garden of Eden to the dairy industries of today, Paul S. Kindstedt unfolds the monumental story of cheese. Vast in scope, rich in detail, Cheese and Culture is a casein-inspired epic."--Eric LeMay, author of Immortal Milk
"Cheese and Culture is the book both cheese professionals and cheese geeks have been waiting for. Professor Kindstedt gives us the mostly untold history of cheese and its societal import from 6500 BC to the present, answering all my cheese questions -- even the ones I didn't know I had. Cheese and Culture is the most comprehensive cheese book ever written by an American, a great addition to our collective cheese library."--Gordon Edgar, cheese buyer, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, San Francisco, and author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge
"In this painstakingly researched yet passion-laced book, Paul Kindstedt shows us how cheese, from its rudimentary beginnings to today's manufacturing, is inextricably linked to culture and, no less, to our future. Cheese and Culture is essential reading for anyone who loves cheese and, equally, cares about the future of food itself."--Laura Werlin, author, Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials
"I love this book - accessible in its prose and style with the breadth and depth of an academic work. All those interested in the role that cheesemaking has played in the development of the world we live in will come away after reading this book with context and understanding, and an intellectual appreciation of why cheese appeals to so many people at an emotional level. Paul Kindstedt has produced a seminal work in Cheese and Culture."--Mateo Kehler, cheesemaker, Jasper Hill Farm
"Paul Kindstedt has fashioned a remarkable book about one of humankind's most distinctive foods. Drawing upon comprehensive evidence from archaeology to contemporary artisan cheese making, Dr. Kindstedt shapes the complex story of cheese. He examines the impact of geography and climate, religion, social status and wealth, transportation and commerce... to describe and explain the 8,500-year evolution of cheese from Neolithic humans to present-day America. From archaeologists and anthropologists and historians to cheesemakers and consumers who want to deepen their understanding and appreciation of cheese, Dr. Kindstedt's book will enlighten, entertain, and reveal the fascinating history and culture of cheese. Bravissimi e complimenti!"--Jeffrey Roberts, New England Culinary Institute, and author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese
"Only a true scholar could weave together the complexity of history, anthropology, language, geography, religion and science to inform and enlighten our understanding of the evolution of cheese making throughout the millennia. Kindstedt, first and foremost with his discerning scientific mind, helps historians inform the heretofore mysteries in the cheese making continuum."--Catherine Donnelly, PhD, co-director, Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese
"Dr. Kindstedt's love and passion for the artisan cheese movement is inspiring. In his latest book, he has presented a beautiful and historically rich mosaic of the history of cheese on our little green planet. With reference to the past, and detailed attention paid to the present, as well as extrospection for the future, Dr. Kindstedt has created an amalgamation of artisan cheese reference, the like of which has not been attempted before."--Matt Jennings, co-owner/executive chef, Farmstead/La Laiterie, Providence, RI
"This book will fascinate anyone who loves cheese. With a sweeping perspective, from the earliest prehistoric domestication of goats and sheep to the present, it chronicles how social, technological, and political developments gave rise to the vast array of cheeses we know and love."--Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, and Wild Fermentation
"No cheese lover or cheesemaker's education will be complete without reading of the epic journey of cheese as it influences and is influenced by human civilization. Paul Kindstedt steers the reader through a vast sea of history with the steady, inspired hand and confidence of a seasoned captain of his subject. What a gift to the world of cheese!"--Gianaclis Caldwell, cheesemaker, Pholia Farm, and author of The Farmstead Creamery Advisor
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Lots of topics were left out. Geographical coverage is limited. Most European countries, Latin America, and the non-ancient Middle Eastern countries do not get mentioned (India is briefly mentioned). Products like cottage cheese that don't keep long don't get much attention. How cheese was used in recipes was not mentioned.
To be fair I did learn some interesting things. For example, some ancient religions expected cheese tithes. Ancient Roman soldiers got cheese rations.
First, it is really dry in the beginning the author did not do a very good job of telling a story. I was actually warned by others that this book was dry, but I said it was OK because I liked dry cheese. :-) He basically just wrote down facts. He didn't breath any life into the subject, I know several people who gave up on the book at this point. You have to get through the first 50 or 60 pages before the book gets interesting.
In addition, his Christian beliefs just permeated the book which really distracted from the subject. The author seems to focus almost the first half of the book on the Middle East. So much was spent just on Israel when I am sure that there was a lot to discussed in other parts of world in relation to cheese. I suspect that he has a great deal of interest in that part of the world because of his obvious beliefs.
Most chapters open with Bible quotes or quotes from Christians in history. Whenever he could think of the thinest execuse to go into long, and at times tedious detail, of Christianity he would do so for pages. At one point he even works in a discussion of gnosticism!!! A good editor should have cut a lot of this.
Please do not misunderstand me, I don't have anything against Christianity, but it was really a stretch to be so focused on Christianity in a book about cheese. If I want to read about Christianity, I will get a book on that subject. I wanted to read a book on Cheese. I mean rather than use all those pages discussing religion, it would have been great to read a discussion on cheese. He could have developed a better discussion on the various tyes and production methods. There was so much more that could have been said about the cultural impact. All this was undeveloped.
Although I was very disappointed in the book, I still think it was worth reading. I just wish the author did a better job in sticking to the subject and really developing a good story about cheese.