Chelsea Green Publishing

Cheesemonger

Pages:256 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781603582377
Pub. Date January 21, 2010

Cheesemonger

A Life on the Wedge

Categories:
Food & Drink

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
January 21, 2010

$17.95

Witty and irreverent, informative and provocative, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge is the highly readable story of Gordon Edgar's unlikely career as a cheesemonger at San Francisco's worker-owned Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. A former punk-rock political activist, Edgar bluffed his way into his cheese job knowing almost nothing, but quickly discovered a whole world of amazing artisan cheeses. There he developed a deep understanding and respect for the styles, producers, animals, and techniques that go into making great cheese.

With a refreshingly unpretentious sensibility, Edgar intertwines his own life story with his ongoing love affair with cheese, and offers readers an unflinching, highly entertaining on-the-ground look at America's growing cheese movement. From problem customers to animal rights, business ethics to taste epiphanies, this book offers something for everyone, including cheese profiles and recommendations for selecting the very best-not just the most expensive-cheeses from the United States and around the world and a look at the struggles dairy farmers face in their attempts to stay on and make their living from the land.

Edgar-a smart, progressive cheese man with an activist's edge-enlightens and delights with his view of the world from behind the cheese counter and his appreciation for the skill and tradition that go into a good wedge of Morbier.

Cheesemonger is the first book of its kind-a cheese memoir with attitude and information that will appeal to everyone from serious foodies to urban food activists.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

"A consummate cheese retailer, Gordon Edgar knows his cheese and aims to please. Unique in the offering of cheese books, this one is more than an encyclopedia. Gordon weaves an intricate web of his world at Rainbow Grocery: a democracy of passionate food mavens, a look at social justice, and the foibles of the human condition. It's all there. Gordon's expressive and entertaining prose exudes his smiling wit. His tales are both light hearted and poignant. He dares to ask all of the tough questions. Far from the cheese vats of Vermont, I want to hang out at Rainbow Grocery, get the cheese vibe and watch the world go by. Blessed is the cheese monger."--Allison Hooper, cofounder, Vermont Butter & Cheese

"Gordon Edgar offers a singular glimpse into the exceedingly diverse, complex and sometimes incomprehensible post-60s world of cheese. Embedded within this humorous and provocative life story of a punk rocker-anarchist-turned-cheesemonger is a thought-provoking exploration of some of the great issues that loom large in the world of higher-end cheeses and, indeed, the American food system."--Paul Kindstedt, author of American Farmstead Cheese

"Gordon Edgar, punkster turned cheesemonger, has a knack for telling stories and crams his passion, wry humor, and knowledge into every page. It's such a treat to read that as I neared the end, I started to ration the pages to make it last longer."--Didi Emmons, author of Vegetarian Planet

"Weaving together seemingly disparate worlds, Gordon Edgar takes you on as a passenger in his wickedly funny and insightful memoir. By the time I finished reading, I had learned new things about cheese, for sure, but was more struck by his unique and humorous take on cooperatives, community and how Americans relate to their food. Cheese may be the focus, but human dynamics, in all our shared quirks, passions and constructed factions, is really the subject."--Becky Selengut, chef and author

"Cheesemonger is a deliciously fun read, cover to cover. Gordon gives a knowledgeable and thoroughly unabashed view from the front lines of a surging field."--Max McCalman, author of The Cheese Plate, Cheese: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best, and Mastering Cheese: Lessons for Connoisseurship from a Maitre Fromager, and Dean of Curriculum at www.artisanalcheese.com

"All I can say is this, if Randall Grahm, of Bonny Doon, would have discovered cheese before wine, he would have written this book. Cheesemonger is witty, insightful, and utterly packed with passion and fine humor. This book now goes on the 'required reading' list for my entire staff!"--Charlie Trotter, Restaurant Charlie Trotter's

"Not surprisingly, never before have the themes of punk rock and cheese appeared between the covers of the same book. But cheesemonger, author, and former punk rock aficionado Gordon Edgar's world is different. His unique perspective as a cheesemonger in a San Francisco co-op, his uncontainable passion for cheese, and his ability to weave a tale like no other make Cheesemonger one of the most readable, entertaining, and educational books on cheese--and life--ever written."--Laura Werlin, author of Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials

"Smart, compassionate, and fun to read, Cheesemonger took me by surprise! Who would expect the memoir of a cheese man to be so fascinating, playful, and refreshing? It's great to hear a voice on food from the punk route, and Gordon Edgar brings a fresh and important perspective that we could all use for handmade foods, those that aren't, and the people who buy them."--Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from America's Farmers' Markets and What We Eat When We Eat Alone

"If you think culture applies only to transforming milk into cheese, then read this book! Gordon Edgar takes you on an irreverent journey through history, punk music, lust, food politics, and daily challenges faced by small-scale farmers and co-op retailers. He simultaneously demystifies cheese, while wrestling with the myths and contradictions of the global food system. He will make you laugh, cry, and debate him!"--Jeffrey Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese

Publishers Weekly-
Beginning with the Antique Gruyere that awoke his sleeping palate to the wonders and possibilities of cheese, professional cheesemonger Edgar recounts the path that landed him behind the cheese counter of a San Francisco co-op. Armed with a healthy disdain for pretentiousness and a liberal attitude rooted in punk rock and activism, Edgar provides engaging, illuminating essays on the intricacies of cheese and its production-from milk to the use of hormones to methods of farming-as well as profiles of well-known varieties; he even makes room for oft-maligned American Cheese (Edgar himself was raised on Velveeta and Kraft Singles), as well as entertaining digressions on crazy customers. Unfortunately, Edgar's asides can irritate as often as they inform, repeating his thoughts on issues like the logistics of food cooperatives and challenges facing the nation's milk producers. Edgar's passion for the subject, including its politics and social implications, is unassailable, and should give readers a new perspective on their favorite wedge of fromage. The book works best as a bulletin from the front lines, rather than a guide to distinguishing Cashel from Maytag Blue; it should prove most interesting to locavores, fellow cheesemongers, and those interested in the U.S. food industry.

Ian Chipman, for Booklist-
Gordon (Zola) Edgar recounts his life in cheese, which began when he took a job at the cheese counter of the famed Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco, knowing little beyond the Monterey Jack he grew up eating. His punk-rock aesthetic and political activism meshed beautifully with the worker-run natural foods store, but it wasn't until a revelatory encounter with an Antique Gruyere that a true passion was kindled. He claims that this is a memoir, not a guidebook, but you couldn't really ask for a more personable guide and introduction to the world of cheese, especially for those turned off by the lah-de-dahing often associated with it. He has a tendency to talk in circles, wandering from topic to topic and back around again, but it's almost always enlightening and entertaining. He'll get into aging cheese, then mirror it with his own maturation, or slice into the political aspects of making cheese (of which there are many), then segue into his own unique role in the community, or counterbalance techie talk of rennet and growth hormones with personal anecdotes of persnickety customers and earthy cheese makers. What really sets him apart, though, is his absolute disdain for pretension. He recognizes that a cheese obsession is inevitably foodie-ish, but that doesn't mean it has to be tied up in snobbery and fetishization of trendy buzzwords (his picking apart of artisinal and terroir are especially delicious). Each chapter ends with a couple of cheese recommendations for us poor souls not lucky enough to have a Gordon Zola in our own neighborhoods.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gordon Edgar

Gordon Edgar loves cheese and worker-owned co-ops, and has been combining both of these infatuations as the cheese buyer for San Francisco’s Rainbow Grocery Cooperative since 1994. Edgar has been a judge at numerous national cheese competitions, a board member for the California Artisan Cheese Guild, and has had a blog since 2002, which can be found at www.gordonzola.net. Edgar is the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge (Chelsea Green 2010) and he enjoys mold in the right places, good cheese stink, and washing his hands upwards of one hundred times a day.

 

ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

Cheddar

Cheddar

By Gordon Edgar

One of the oldest, most ubiquitous, and beloved cheeses in the world, the history of cheddar is a fascinating one. Over the years it has been transformed, from a painstakingly handmade wheel to a rindless, mass-produced block, to a liquefied and emulsified plastic mass untouched by human hands. The Henry Fordism of cheddar production in many ways anticipated the advent of industrial agriculture.  They don’t call it “American Cheese” for nothing.

Cheddar is one man’s picaresque journey to find out what a familiar food can tell us about ourselves. Cheddar may be appreciated in almost all American homes, but the advocates of the traditional wheel versus the processed slice often have very different ideas about food. Since cheddar—with its diversity of manufacturing processes and tastes—is such a large umbrella, it is the perfect food through which to discuss many big food issues that face our society.

More than that, though, cheddar actually holds a key to understanding not only issues surrounding food politics, but also some of the ways we think of our cultural identity. Cheddar, and its offshoots, has something to tell us about this country: the way people rally to certain cheddars but not others; the way they extol or denounce the way others eat it; the role of the commodification of a once-artisan cheese and the effect that has on rural communities.  The fact that cheddar is so common that it is often taken for granted means that examining it can lead us to the discovery of usually unspoken truths.

Author Gordon Edgar (Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge) is well equipped to take readers on a tour through the world of cheddar. For more than fifteen years he has worked as an iconoclastic cheesemonger in San Francisco, but his sharp talent for observation and social critique were honed long before then, in the world of ’zines, punk rock, and progressive politics. His fresh perspectives on such a seemingly common topic are as thought provoking as they are entertaining.

Available in: Hardcover, Paperback

Read More

Cheddar

Gordon Edgar

Hardcover $25.00

AUTHOR VIDEOS

An Interview with Gordon Edgar, Cheesemonger

4 Things to Know About Buying Cheese

An Interview with Gordon Edgar, Cheesemonger (Extended)

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Cheese and Culture

Cheese and Culture

By Paul Kindstedt

Behind every traditional type of cheese there is a fascinating story. By examining the role of the cheesemaker throughout world history and by understanding a few basic principles of cheese science and technology, we can see how different cheeses have been shaped by and tailored to their surrounding environment, as well as defined by their social and cultural context. Cheese and Culture endeavors to advance our appreciation of cheese origins by viewing human history through the eyes of a cheese scientist.

There is also a larger story to be told, a grand narrative that binds all cheeses together into a single history that started with the discovery of cheese making and that is still unfolding to this day. This book reconstructs that 9000-year story based on the often fragmentary information that we have available. Cheese and Culture embarks on a journey that begins in the Neolithic Age and winds its way through the ensuing centuries to the present. This tour through cheese history intersects with some of the pivotal periods in human prehistory and ancient, classical, medieval, renaissance, and modern history that have shaped western civilization, for these periods also shaped the lives of cheesemakers and the diverse cheeses that they developed. The book offers a useful lens through which to view our twenty-first century attitudes toward cheese that we have inherited from our past, and our attitudes about the food system more broadly.

This refreshingly original book will appeal to anyone who loves history, food, and especially good cheese.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Cheese and Culture

Paul Kindstedt

Paperback $17.95

Chasing Chiles

Chasing Chiles

By Gary Paul Nabhan and Kraig Kraft and Kurt Michael Friese

Chasing Chiles looks at both the future of place-based foods and the effects of climate change on agriculture through the lens of the chile pepper-from the farmers who cultivate this iconic crop to the cuisines and cultural traditions in which peppers play a huge role.

Why chile peppers? Both a spice and a vegetable, chile peppers have captivated imaginations and taste buds for thousands of years. Native to Mesoamerica and the New World, chiles are currently grown on every continent, since their relatively recent introduction to Europe (in the early 1500s via Christopher Columbus). Chiles are delicious, dynamic, and very diverse-they have been rapidly adopted, adapted, and assimilated into numerous world cuisines, and while malleable to a degree, certain heirloom varieties are deeply tied to place and culture-but now accelerating climate change may be scrambling their terroir.

Over a year-long journey, three pepper-loving gastronauts-an agroecologist, a chef, and an ethnobotanist-set out to find the real stories of America's rarest heirloom chile varieties, and learn about the changing climate from farmers and other people who live by the pepper, and who, lately, have been adapting to shifting growing conditions and weather patterns. They put a face on an issue that has been made far too abstract for our own good.

Chasing Chiles is not your archetypal book about climate change, with facts and computer models delivered by a distant narrator. On the contrary, these three dedicated chileheads look and listen, sit down to eat, and get stories and recipes from on the ground-in farmers' fields, local cafes, and the desert-scrub hillsides across North America. From the Sonoran Desert to Santa Fe and St. Augustine (the two oldest cities in the U.S.), from the marshes of Avery Island in Cajun Louisiana to the thin limestone soils of the Yucatan, this book looks at how and why climate change will continue to affect our palates and our producers, and how it already has.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Chasing Chiles

Gary Paul Nabhan, Kraig Kraft, Kurt Michael Friese

Paperback $17.95

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook

By The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center and Olivia Rathbone

Celebrating biodiversity through the Mother Garden’s collection of rare, open-pollinated varieties and wild edibles from OAEC’s ecological preserve

2016 IACP Cookbook Awards WINNER!  ("Food Matters" category)

More than anything, food brings us together—as families and as communities. So there is no better place to begin creating a healthier and sustainable community than around a shared table.

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook is a beautifully illustrated collection of 200 unique and delicious vegetarian recipes from the renowned California-based farm, educational retreat center, and eco-thinktank.

OAEC has a passionate ethos about eating seasonally, and this book shows readers how to cook based on what is available in the garden. This unique cookbook incorporates ingredients from all seasons, including weeds, flowers, herbs, nuts, fruits, mushrooms, and other forages. The recipes also include the quantities and measurements necessary to cook for a crowd—making each dish perfect to cook at home, or to share at parties, potlucks, and community events.

With sample seasonal menus to inspire cooks throughout the year, The OAEC Cookbook offers a wide range of recipes such as: Carrot and Chamomile Soup, Summer Squash Ribbons with Purple Shiso, Roasted Asparagus and Nettle Risotto with Pea Tendrils, and Pepita-Encrusted Squash Blossoms Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mint. There are cold vegetable plates for warm summer picnics, and readers will learn how to create delicious salad dressing recipes for garden-fresh greens, including Loquat Ginger, Golden Tomato Cumin, and Preserved Lemon Brine. There are comfort foods like pots of savory Biodiversity Beans and Winter Sourdough Pizza, and warming snacks like Toasted Hazelnuts with Thyme. Readers can top a plate of veggie sides with a generous dollop of one of OAEC’s famous sauces and pestos, and learn how to infuse their own Honey Syrups for homemade cocktails. Last but not least, delicious standout desserts like Fresh Fruit Fools, a Dark Roast Winter Squash Tart with Hazelnut Crust, or the Cardamom-Rose-Plum Bars.

This informative cookbook will help gardeners find new ways to cook with their vegetables, farmers’ market shoppers looking to expand their repertoire, home cooks who want to cook healthy for their family or host a big dinner party, chefs looking for inspired recipes using weeds and perennial fruits and vegetables, and community-based organizations who cook for crowds on a regular basis.

Available in: Hardcover

Read More

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center Cookbook

The Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, Olivia Rathbone, Alice Waters

Hardcover $40.00

The Uses of Wild Plants

The Uses of Wild Plants

By Frank Tozer

A must-have for foragers, botanists, herbalists, gardeners, permaculturists, and anyone who wants to learn more about wild plants, this insightful guide provides interesting and valuable uses for more than 1200 species in 500 genera of wild plants found throughout North America and beyond.

The Uses of Wild Plants provides a survey of how plants have been used for food, drink, medicine, fuel, clothing, intoxicants, and more throughout history. Each listing includes a detailed description and drawing to aid in identifying these valuable plants in your garden and in the wild.

Greenthumbs will learn cultivation techniques for the most significant of these plants, and their uses in the garden. Tozer foresees a future where plants are an integral part of an ecologically sustainable society. They will provide renewable sources of energy, fertilizer, chemicals, building materials, and more, and will give us the means to clean our waterways and groundwater, desalinate soil, recover valuable nutrients from waste, and maybe even help to slow global warming.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Uses of Wild Plants

Frank Tozer

Paperback $24.95