By Liz Thorpe
Harper Collins/Ecco, $15.99, 376 pages
The Cheese Chronicles represents one woman’s passion for cheese, and the coming of age of the cheese movement in America. Once regarded as inferior to Europe’s product, Thorpe demonstrates – through a quirky storytelling style that will have you chuckling while simultaneously teaching you the nuances of cheese and the cheese making process – that American cheese is no longer just the prefabricated, cellophane wrapped, mass-produced and flavorless product it once was.
Thorpe, who works at the esteemed Murray’s Cheese in New York City, is the perfect spokeswoman for a dairy product that has become increasingly trendy and respected over the past decade. Young and hip, she accomplishes the impossible, making cheese seem sexy. Thorpe’s passion for cheese shows clearly in the pages of The Cheese Chronicles; her finely tuned palate enables her to come up with fantastically dense descriptions of a myriad of different cheeses. In her words, they are “lemony, milky whirls” or “pungent, salty, woodsy perfection.”
The Cheese Chronicles is educational, covering the differences between cheese made from the milk of cows, goats, and sheep, and explaining what to look for in a cheese and how to hone your own sense of taste. Even better, it’s entertaining, chock full of vignettes delivered in a monologue that is equal parts humorous and down to earth.
Reviewed by Mark Petruska