Monday, December 27, 2010

Chinese Cheese

It has been almost two weeks since I arrived in China. This is my third visit to this country and this time I am truly going to learn the language. As I mentioned before this blog will turn into more of a food blog and less about cheese. At least until I go back to a country that has a substantial cheese culture. But for now a small post on Chinese Cheese.

Many times people ask me, why do Chinese don't eat cheese. The most common explanation is that there is no milk-drinking culture in most Asian countries and therefore people here are lactose intolerant. However, that explanation is incomplete, not only because there is a growing milk-drinking culture and has there been one for at least a decade, but also because most semi-aged and aged cheese have very small amounts of lactose. More important, I think is the lack of a culture that supports eating cheese. For the most part, Chinese food includes either rice or noodles as the staple and then sauce, meat, vegetables and other things are served on the side to make a full meal. If you think about it, cheese is not something that we eat just on the side as an add on flavor. Even when melted, cheese is a big part of the meal not just and added flavor. This translates in a culture with no cheese eating habit and obviously not a cheese making culture to sustain it.

Still, globalization is quickly changing all that. More and more, middle class Chinese families try to emulate the eating, drinking and consumer habits of the US and Europe. This has translated in more super markets and American fast food chains opening in China than any other market in the world, but also into new products being commercialized for Chinese consumption. Among them are wines, liquors, sodas, chocolates and slowly cheese. Unfortunately the cheese being commercialized are not small artisanal cheeses, but rather commercial cheese foods that are emulsified with flour, oil, and whey to make cheese spreads or slices. So far I have not seen in any supermarket any non-commercial cheese and obviously the local markets do not carry it either. What the markets do have is a large variety of tofu, which I hope to try and cook.

Nevertheless, with globalization also comes different ventures and there are currently at least two places that are starting to makes cheese in a more "traditional" style in China. I still haven't tried them, but here are links to find them. If you know of any other or have tried them please let me know. I hope I will try them both soon and have a full review of them.

Yunnan Goat's Milk Cheese
Shanxi Cow's Milk Cheese

Also a group of ex-pats in China are trying to introduce cheese and wine into the Chinese market. Here are two links to two societies that are interesting. I also haven't been able to contact them, but in time I hope I could see what they are all about.

Beijing Cheese Society event
Grape Wall of China Blog

Finally, I would like to talk about about cheese from the "other" side of the world. Let me start with my six hour trip to Amsterdam. In my way to China, my flight from Boston to Detroit to Shanghai got cancelled and in order to leave the US in time to beat the upcoming snow storms, I was put in a Boston-Amsterdam-Shanghai flight. This brief but enlightening trip to The Netherlands, corroborated my worries about cheese in Europe. As you may remember, during my trip to Paris a couple of weeks ago, I was discouraged by the amount of commercial cheese in supermarkets. This was the same situation in Amsterdam. All the places I went had, yes "dutch" cheese, but still all pre-packed and all were more than just rennet, milk and salt. Everything had a chemical additive.

I'm sure it has to do with the places I visited and this is the same everywhere, but to think that the consumers in theses markets in places like France, England and The Netherlands with real cheese cultures would settle for commercial cheese is really sad. In any case, to end on a positive note, I leave you with two of the latest post from David Labovitz who recently visit two Comte cheese facilities in the Jura region of France and in his writing you can totally sense the cheese culture when the cheese makers go back to eat breakfast.

Enjoy

Comte posts from David Lebovitz on Making and Ripening.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

E Gourmet

Lactography is again on the field. Yes, we are teaching about artisanal Mexican cheese at this event. The event is a three weekend affair and we have cheeses from Chiapas, Queretaro and Chihuahua.

Apart from the educational program, in which we teach people how to taste, eat, cook and pair cheese, we are also selling some of the cheeses and providing information about the cheesemakers.

We are looking to raise awareness about the need to support local makers and seeking funds to help cheesemakers purchase new vats and tables for their facilities. We will have pictures on our new facebook page.

If you are in Mexico, please visit our stand and learn more about the awesome cheese produced in Mexico.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cheese travels

I'm on the middle of a two-week trip to England and France. The primary purpose of the trip was to come judge the World Cheese Awards in Birmingham, England. This is the second time that I judge these awards and happily I was chosen again by the Guild of Fine Foods to be one of the fourteen International Supreme Judges.

The trip has been fantastic, not only because I got this great honor, but also because this was the first time that Mexican cheese participated in the competition.

It was such an experience to see the head global dairy buyers for Whole Foods and Tesco taste Queso de Bola de Ocosingo and give recommendations on how to improve the cheese.

The winner of the awards this year was Cornish Blue, a newish (10 yo in the market) cheese that easily took the top prize for England after a ten year wait.

Cornish Blue was so delicate, the paste so creamy and the veins of blue perfectly covering all the surface of the cheese. The rind looked rugged but gentle, like a beautiful rock that has been carefully washed away by the ocean. The smell was earthy, sweet and mineral. Truly a gorgeous blue cheese.

This year, I championed for the Supreme Judge panel a Camembert with breadcrumbs infused with Calvados. This was a really risky option, because this style of cheese is unique of flavored cheeses and people either hate it or love it. The piece that we tried was a perfect example of raw milk Camembert that was very lightly covered with breadcrumbs and the Calvados making the perfect balance. At the end my cheese divided the Supreme panel in two, with all the British judges hating it and all the rest of the international judges loving it. The South African and Japanese judges loved it so much that it got 5 points from them both.

At the end, I was happy to have chosen such a unique cheese and now understand the privilege of being a judge that mainly works in North America where tradition is being enhanced by innovation and an open palate.

Another great piece of news from the WCA is that my old friend Sarah Bates from Sheridan's Cheesemongers was chosen this year to be the Irish judge. Sarah is cheese royalty, being the daughter of Jeffa Gill maker of Durrus and the woman recognized as the mother of raw milk artisanal cheesemaking in Ireland. Sarah is the manager of Sheridan's in Galway and the number one person responsible for my career in cheese. You can see the video here.



I write from the Eurostar back from Paris to London. I hadn't been in France in eleven years and I found it ever so enchanting, even if a little depressed. Cheese adventures included the obvious trips to local cheese stores and a small tasting of cheeses that don't make it outside of Europe. I will post pictures and names once I get back to NYC and I can upload them from the camera.

The most surprising thing about cheese in France, or at least in the places that I visited in Paris, was the flooding of the market of bad commercial cheese.

I still can't understand why is this so, this being the most obvious place for good quality cheese. After talking to various people about it, including academics, chefs and expats, the only explanation is that the same depression that people have over a financial turn down, racial and ethnic tensions, and growing discontent with the government over proposed neoliberal reforms has made people also apathetic about food.

In bold terms, that quintessential French "joie de vivre" is being diluted. The way that I perceive it is by the selections people make and to me those over what cheese to eat are really important.

This is not a unique French situation, my friend Sarah mentioned the same thing going on in Ireland and just before coming on this trip I had the same feeling in New York. The only difference in the US being that there is truly a food revolution in the midst that I did not see in France, but that it's happening in England.

On other news, i am not smuggling cheese in my bag - yes, you read it well. I am not bringing any cheese back with me from France to England. Partially because nothing was left of the cheese that I bought for the tasting, but also because there is so much cheese waiting in England. Finally, cheese is about sharing for me, and I normally bring cheese back to share with loved ones, but this time I have a gorgeous travel companion who has been eating and enjoying with me.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Expo Chiapas 2010

I will be in Chiapas for this event. This will be the fourth time that I will be judging cheeses from Chiapas. The two cheeses from this state that are going to the World Cheese Awards will not be competing this time to allow other producers to have a shot.

The other cool thing about this Expo is that there are many small producers of artisanal foods from Chiapas and other states of Mexico. The event is really festive and I will be posting pictures that you can access in the feed.

Because the cheesemakers now have a lot of experience doing this type of events, we are also planning a small workshop on marketing and so my sister is coming with me as she has a small catering business and will start commercializing the winning cheeses in Mexico City.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cave Aged - Semi-Mature

Today, the blog is one year old. So many adventures in this past year and so much new cheese.

I wanted to mark the day with a post on the lessons-learned and plans for the future. Instead, and because the risk of getting really sentimental worries me, I leave you with the promise of great new adventures.

In the next couple of days Lucy's Whey at the Chelsea Market will also be turning one year old and I will be traveling to Birmingham, England to judge the 2010 World Cheese Awards.

Thanks for following, reading, making comments and eating cheese.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Feria de Fomento Gastronómico Nacional

There is a really interesting group of Mexicans and foreigners living in Mexico City working towards a more sustainable future. They are doing this by supporting local producers, learning how to eat, shop and promote small producers and to recover part of the culinary culture that Mexico is quickly loosing with the commodification of markets. I have come to learn about their work by following other Politics students tweeting about many issues in Mexico, one being good food. They too have a passion for food and politics, I call them the lactographers and along some awesome people around the world we have a vision of eating better, while also helping small producers keep their livelihoods.

It is for this reason, that Lactography goes beyond the blogosphere and the halls of cheese contests to let residents of Mexico city to taste some of the most amazing cheeses being produced in the country during a unique event hosted by a group of students concern on issues of sustainable gastronomy. Lactography will have a small stand with cheeses from Chiapas, Queretaro, Oaxaca, Puebla and Michoacan; showcasing five styles of traditional Mexican cheese.

The event details are:

Cocinando el Futuro de Mexico
Dia: 18 de Noviembre - 11 AM a 6PM
Lugar: Universidad Anáhuac del Sur

If you are in Mexico City, make sure you go and visit. There will be two cheesemongers trained by me (one is my sister, who shares my passion for food) and you will be able to taste, purchase and learn more about our culinary culture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

On our way to Birmingham

That is, Queso de Oveja Semi-maduro (Queretaro), Queso de Bola de Ocosingo (Chiapas), Queso de Cuadro (Chiapas) are going to represented Mexico in the World Cheese Awards in England. This is the first time the judges will be able to taste these cheeses in competition. Most likely this is the first time that samples of the cheeses are making it out of the country. This opportunity is timely as the Mexican Cheese Society (or better the Sociedad de Maestros Queseros Mexicanos) started in Mexico over the summer. We will soon have a website, but for now the five founders (or constituyentes as I like calling us) are working on our own projects supporting Mexican artisanal cheesemakers. Our vision is twofold, on one hand we want to promote, protect, support, and eat artisanal Mexican cheese. We also want to introduce Mexico to the cheese world, by representing Latin American flavor both in North America and in Europe. We are committed to work to conserve Mexican culinary culture and open up the borders for cheese, cheesemakers and cheese-experts.

The World Cheese Awards are this year in Birmingham, England from 23 to 25 November and there will be around 1800+ cheeses from 33 countries with about 150 judges. I am one of those judges, along with great people that have also made cheese their passion. The title of judge is a difficult one, because it conveys an idea of people deciding that a cheese is good or not based on arbitrary values connected to the subjectivity of taste. For that reason, I think most cheese judges would agree that we are taste empresarios. Our job is to taste cheese and decide how that cheese could be better according to what that one particular sample is like. We are not in this business to tell people to stop making cheese (unless you are making cheese-foods), but rather to help cheesemakers achieve a dream. Of course that dream is partially economic success, but I believe there is a way to make this sustainable.

The fact that three Mexican cheeses will be in the competition is a very proud personal moment, not because I have nationalistic feelings about dairy, but because these three cheeses and their cheesemakers have been carefully nurtured by me, to get them to where they are today. The cheesemakers that produced them started with great cheeses and after many consultations about how much whey to extract, the type of rennet to use, salt amounts, and acidification and aging process they have turned to be amazing cheeses that can compete with the ones that I tried in the 2009 WCA. I sponsor them to be in the competition and I hope they do great!

Also to report, I just got back of my first trip to Tabasco, where I judged the 3rd Regional Artisanal Cheese Fair. Tabasco is a small state in the coast of the Gulf of Mexico with a growing cheese culture. Cheesemakers from this state have already gotten a collective trademark for the Queso de Poro de Balancan. This cheese is unique of this state, as it was invented there by a cheesemaker who apparently was looking to make Edam style cheese, but because of the higher temperature and the amount of water in the milk (whey), he ended up with a cheese that is rubbery, salty, and perfect for snacking.

Apologies for the long delay. This statement assumes that your are reading and wondering where I have been. If you are, thanks for following. The absence in this space does not mean that I'm not following cheese. Updates are constant on twitter, even if you don't have an account you can check my feed on this site on the top left-hand side. If you do have an account, follow #quesoMexicano for artisanal Mexican cheese news and #WCA for the awards. Thank you again.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Camel Cheese

If you are in New York City and would like to have a taste of cheese from China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan join me and others to welcome the team of the What Took You So Long Foundation as the come back from the first leg of their tour to document the culture of Camel cheesemakers.

Here are the details:

PRE-EVENT EVENT!
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Time: 6 or 6:30PM @ Barnyard Cheese Shop (http://www.barnyardcheese.com/)
Location: 149 Avenue C, New York, NY

CAMEL CHEESE EVENT
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Time: 8 to 11PM @ THE BLIND BARBER (http://www.blindbarber.com/)
Location: 339 East 10th Street, New York, NY

In attendance will be special guests to add an entertaining and stimulating twist to the night including a cheese scholar (me), DJ, Photographer, and performers of various kinds.

Dress to Impress!

Cost : $5 + it will be added to our Kickstarter and you will get a reward.

You can still get a prize if you can't make it: www.kickstarter.com/projects/353808285/what-took-you-so-long-to-find-camel-cheese

or you can also find them on facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=110088319051370

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cheese Politics Class

We find American politics invigorating, but not always delicious. For intellectual stimulation that will also tantalize your tastebuds, we would like to introduce you to one of our favorite subjects: Cheese Politics. We're pitting Red States versus Blue States to see who will reign as king of curd. Will Texas, Virginia, and Utah present the winning campaign, or will California, Vermont, and Oregon rule the soapbox? Carlos Yescas, food consultant, cheese judge, and PhD student in Politics from the New School for Social Research, will guide us through a tasting of cheeses from across the country, all framed by hot topics in domestic politics. It's almost fall--time to put our thinking caps on as we settle into a plate of great American Cheese.

When: 09.11.10
Time: 6:30-8:00 PM
Instructor: Carlos Yescas
Cost: $50.00

Tickets available at: http://www.murrayscheese.com/edu_class.asp?number=CHEESECOURSE09111001

(sorry for the shameless self-promotion)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Festival del Queso - Ocosingo 2010

Festival del Queso
Date: 13 -14 August 2010
Place: Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico

I will be judging approximately thirty cheeses and will be giving a speech entitled: Los Quesos Mexicanos Genuinos: La necesidad de una legislacion quesera (Mexican Genuine Cheeses: the need for cheese legislation)

Follow me on twitter @carlosyescas, as I will be micro-blogging from there.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mexican Adventures in Cheese-buying

This is from another supermaket in Mexico City. As you may remember, I wrote that there are very few cheese stores in Mexico city and the places with the largest selection are supermarket chains. This one is called City Market and it is definitely upscale, with their fine food prepared food menu, brick oven pizza shop, gelato counter (not helado), and a pinxtos bar (not tapas, they use the Portuguese word to add to the snobbery). However, it is the only place around me that has organic eggs, soy and rice milk, and decent coffee selection from Chiapas.

Their cheese counters have flags from the countries they say they bring the cheese from, but it is all a mediocre selection of pre-processed - pre-cut cheese. They did have a Foume d'Ambert that looked ok, but was completely unwrapped and exposed making sure that this very expensive cheese will be dry and old in a couple of days.

The only interesting offering was an artisanal quesillo, which promise to be good from the huge "enredado" in the case. The brand is La Huastequi and it said it is artisanal. I bought a piece and will be tasting it soon, at the counter it tasted good if a little dry. I also got a small Queso de Petate (another name for farmer's cheese) from Oaxaca made according to the label in an artisanal way with no preservatives by a company called Xipe.

Cheese selection @ City Market - (Col. Del Valle, Benito Juarez, Mexico, D.F.)

Mexican Adventures in Cheese-buying

These trucks are everywhere in Mexico city every Wednesday and Thursday, when these families come from Oaxaca to sell their products in the city. The quality is good, clean and the prices average. We buy from them Queso de Canasto and sometimes Quesillo. The only problem is that we don't know about the production methods back in the farm. If you are in the city, stop by one of them and try their cheeses, buy a little piece of quesillo, a tlayuda, some chapulines (grasshoppers) and ajos salados (tosted garlic with chilly and salt) to make a salsa for your very Oaxacan quesadillas or Tlayuda as they call it.

Their selection includes: Queso Oaxaca (quesillo), Panela (a feta-like cow's cheese), Menonite, Canasto (farmer's cheese), and Requeson (ricotta-like), Chiapas (Doble Crema de Cuadro), Cotija, Chihuahua (cheddar-type).

Cheese selection @ El Puesto Oaxaqueno - (Col. Napoles, Benito Juarez, Mexico, D.F.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Wedding Cheese

The original idea was to give people some guidelines on how to go about buying cheese for their wedding, but then I thought to myself, I will not take someone else's rules. This is my event and only the two people getting married know what the entire event should be like. But before I turn into Groomzilla, here are my menus and a small explanation of why I choose the cheeses in the boards and dishes.

One of the first events we had on our way to getting married was a good-bye picnic in Prospect Park, Brooklyn where a lot of our friends from New York came. The day turned out to be a gorgeous sunny, warm and aromatic day. I love the smell of Prospect Park; the air from the marshes there along with the briefs swifts of ocean air, make the place a perfect spot to clean out your lungs from the city traffic.

For this event, we asked friends to bring food potluck style and everyone outdid themselves. From small sandwiches, to spring rolls and awesome endive salad with a fatty pecorino. Everything was delicious. I got the cheese for the picnic at Lucy's Whey at the Chelsea Market, at Murray's Cheese in Greenwich Village and at Formaggio's and Saxelby at the Essex Market.

My idea for the cheese was to have a fresh board, nothing heavy that will be difficult to eat with the heat of the day and also nothing with a rind that would start turning crusty and old after being out of the fridge and in the sun for a while. Because the picnic was also part of the wedding celebration, I wanted something romantic and have to admit that looked everywhere for Coeur de Neufchatel, but nobody in the city seems to carry it.

I also wanted local cheeses and crowd pleasers, so I made my mind and got some American and some French, the board included (pictured on top)

Cremont from Vermont Butter and Cheese Co.,
Langres from France,
Mountaineer form Meadow Creek Dairy (in Virginia),
Tomme de Savoie from France, but this is produced by a small cheesemaker and the production is really limited only available at Formaggio's, and
Gorgonzola Picante from Italy (this was the only outliner and a total wild guess, that worked great in the summer heat)

The other cheese that I bought but didn't make it to the board as my husband and I ate all the night before the picnic was Moses Sleeper from Jasper Hill Farms. This was available only at Saxelby and it was so perfect runny and creamy that needed to be eaten right away.

All the cheeses worked well together and people got to taste them with food, which is great. We had a couple of baguettes on hand and tons of other food to munch on. My personal favorite that day was Cremont and Will's was Mountaineer. Langres is a huge crowd pleaser and it is too bad that Murray's no longer washes them in-house before putting them in the shelves. Back when I was in the caves, we brushed them every other day and they turned even more funky after being with other washed rinds. If I ever start an affinage room in my house I will definitely try to wash my Langres too.

In a non-wedding note, the day of the picnic was also the day of the first cheesemongers invitational organized in NYC. I was at the event and got to see so many friends and people in the cheese world. It was truly a unique experience.

The second event involving cheese to celebrate our marriage was a cheese tasting for our friends and family in Mexico City. Since Will and I are not religious, we wanted to do various events where our loved ones will share in the experiences that make us individuals but also a couple. Will choose to have a private showing of the Polyforum Siqueiros light and sound show for everyone and I organized a tasting of Mexican cheeses.

Here that challenge was even greater, but with the help of cheesemakers, cheesemongers and my mom, all the cheese arrived on time and was ready to be tasted by everyone a day before the wedding. I choose four Mexican cheeses, from three different regions of the country. The reason was that I believe that these cheeses represented our culinary culture and a distinct terroir.

The board had:

Queso Doble Crema de Cuadro, Chiapas (pictured alone)
Queso de Bola de Ocosingo, Chiapas
Queso Menonita, Chihuahua
Queso de Oveja, Queretaro

The two first ones are made in Chiapas with cows’ milk, if you check back in some of my older posts you will find a description of them. The third one is made in the North of Mexico by a Mennonite minority. The ones that I got were not on top of their game, but you could taste the terroir of the Northern pastures with a more fat flavor and perfect coloring. The last one is made by a great couple who just started making cheese a couple of years ago. They established themselves in Queretaro, which is becoming a Mecca for cheese and wine. This particular cheese is excellent when is slightly mature, you can find information about them at Quesos de Oveja.

I paired these cheeses with grapes from Hidalgo, Pitahaya from the coast, caramelized figs from the middle part of the country, freshly squeezed orange juice and Bola De Oro coffee. I gave a little presentation about cheese tasting and invited future members of the board of the Mexican Cheese Society. It was such a fun thing to do.

I wished I had been able to bring Queso de Poro de Balancan and real Cotija and Quesillo de Oaxaca, but synchronized logistics in Mexico are still our Achilles heel and you cannot completely depend on people sending the cheese on time.

The last event was the wedding itself, and the banquet afterwards. We choose a restaurant call Saks in San Angel, mostly because they are one of the few restaurant in Mexico that serve organic and local produce and meat. There were two different cheeses in the menu at the banquet, not as main dishes but rather as part of another dish. The first was Requeson, which is not really a cheese; it is like Ricotta a second cooking of leftover whey. This was served on blue corn tortillas to make an amazing quesadilla. The other cheese was a manchego style cheese (read my entry on Mexican manchego style cheeses to understand what is this cheese) melted with mushrooms, squash blossoms and spinach, inside a phyllo pie dripped with poblano cream. This last one was our vegetarian option and for the meat eaters we had local ribs of lamb encrusted with herbs.

The menu was a total success with everyone feeling super full and happy. For me and Will this was the best present, to have everyone that loves us with us that day eating, experiencing and enjoying all the things we love. Cheese!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mexican Adventures in Cheese-buying

For this first installment from Mexico, I wanted to show you in pictures the terrible selection of cheese at commercial outlets. This, however, it is in no way a representation of the nascent artisanal cheese industry in the country. In the coming days, I will be blogging about cheese produced in Mexico that is of great quality and you should look for.

The two first pictures are the selections from Comercial Mexicana (Col. Mixoac) and the second two are from Walt-Mart Superama (Col. Napoles), while I did find an organic option at the subsidiary of Walt-Mart and a cheese flavored with Nogada, everything is pre-packaged making all their cheese to taste plastic in the outside and impeding any maturation that may have turn both cheeses into very interesting options.

These two commercial outlets cater to the middle and upper middle class in Mexico and therefore seek to offer more "variety." The problem is that most Mexicans are still new to cheese and buy anything that is available even if not of the best quality. For those reading this in the rest of North American, the situation here is similar of that of Canada and the US back in the late 70s and early 80s, when people there started looking for fine food options but the only products available where those produced by conglomerates.

Cheesers in DF are starting to go back to local markets and tianguis to buy from the puestos that source crema and queso from local ranchers in the nearby states.

The last picture is from smaller outlet. El Capricho Gourmet is a little store that I used to consult for, but since has change ownership and its still looking its niche. Their cheese selection is respectable but lacks a knowledgeable monger to care and sell their cheese.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Adventures in Cheese-buying

This cheese store in Williamsburg has an impressive selection.

However, it is my least favorite of all the cheese stores in the city. The two reasons for this, are 1) it is expensive and 2) the cheesemongers are terrible at explaining anything about the cheese.

For me a bad cheesemonger ruins the whole experience of buying cheese. The problem is that most of the mongers here seem to be more interested in their own knowledge, rather than on educating the consumer. The clientele here seems to appreciate that, but to me this translates into a place that can overcharge for cheese as people are more interested in the consumer experience than in enjoying and learning about cheese.

I know this is really harsh, but while I know it is difficult to find committed people to be mongers, it is also true that if you provide a work environment that is nice and make mongers feel comfortable in their work they will turn into loyal promoters of your store.

Having been a monger myself, I know that sometimes it is difficult to deal with customers. However, my manager was so awesome at being supportive, making me tea after a bad customer or taking over an abusive one, that it was always easy to take care of the next person with a smile.

I got Stilcheton and Tomme de Berger - I went for these two, because I knew what to expect and that way I could just go in and out of the store.

Cheese selection @ Bedford Cheese Shop - (Brooklyn, NY)

Adventures in Cheese-buying

The great thing about the selection at Whole Foods is that it is cheaper than in many other places. The problem is that their mongers are not the best trained and so they let the cheeses dry, crack, or age too much.

This time I didn't get anything because the line was insanely long, but I normally go to Whole Foods to buy things that are going to be used within the week to cook.

Cathy Strange is the Global Cheese-buyer for Whole Foods. She is a great person, who I got to meet in the Canary Islands for the 2009 World Cheese Awards. You can follow her on twitter @WFMCheese.

Cheese selection @ Whole Foods (Bowery) - (New York, NY)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York City

I moved to NYC four years ago. I was coming from living in Ireland, working for Sheridan's Cheesemongers in Galway, and studying a Master's of Laws. I already knew a lot about European cheese, but was not aware of the cheese revolution in the US.

Before I left the emerald island, my fellow cheesemongers in Ireland gave me two amazing presents. One was a cheesemaking class with Silke Cropp in county Cavan to make Corleggy and the second was a gift certificate for - what they said was one of the best cheese stores in the US - Murray's Cheese.

I arrived in the city and after settling in my new life, I checked out their website and got excited about all the classes that they had. Immediately, I called to introduce myself and the amazing Nora Singley asked me if I wanted to help out as an assistant in the classroom. Soon after I was assisting classes every week. A couple of months later, Zoe Brickley (former Cave manager) started looking for apprentices for the caves and me and Svetlana Kukharchuk-Redpath started interning three times a week.

It was there in the cold caves underneath Bleecker Street, with the guidance of Zoe, Nora, Pedro and Joaquin that I learnt about affinage, cutting perfect pieces, and tasting for perfect ripeness.

After that time, other great people at Murray's helped me learn more about cheese. Liz Thorpe, Taylor Cocalis, Louise Geller and Chris Munsey among many others. They all became part of my New York City experience.

But before this becomes a list of the people that you may not know. Let me tell you what is the purpose of this post. I write this as a public acknowledgement to the unsung heroes of the city. It is also a semi-goodbye to a city that has been good to me.

NYC is for better or worse one of the nodal points of the world. I call it this instead of a “world capital,” “the center of the universe,” or any other cliché term, because to me the city is exactly that - a big point of connection among many smaller places.

Those smaller (and bigger places) are the places where cheese is made, matured, and sold. The farmers, cheesemakers, and mongers are out there, caring for that cheese that will end up in our dinner table in 3-to-24 months.

The city is a big market place, where success stories are made and truly unique cheeses (and people) become the talk of the town. I can’t say that I love that about New York, but what I can say is that if you are willing to put the time to make it here, you have a good chance.

However, not everyone comes to the city in the same terms, not everyone gets to talk about cheese and enjoy it at dinner, some are the silent workers who clean the kitchens, mop the floors, and keep this town running day-in and day-out.

Most of those are immigrants and like me they came here looking for a dream. My dream was to work at United Nations, and continue to work with cheese. I never imagined that I would one day be a cheese judge or better a cheese academic, as my friend Dimitri Saad calls me. I came here to be with my family – my boyfriend – here I found new friends.

Immigrants, especially those from Mexico, come here looking for jobs that do not exist back home. They come here too, with their family and find new support systems. They have dreams of making it big and going back home to show the fruit of their work.

Still, the situation for all those migrants (particularly the undocumented) is getting harder and harder. They are now treated not only as second-class humans; they are also dispensed as targets for cheap political tactics.

There is no easy solution to the immigration problem of the US, and I don’t pretend to have the answer. What I do have is a very clear understanding that the only way this city and probably this country functions is because of all those immigrants that work hard and maintain our cheese-stores stocked, clean, and staffed.

As I leave the city for a while to continue researching to have a more complex understanding of a possible solution. I ask you to keep in mind those migrants, who like me would like to come and go easily and not live in fear of deportation for working in the things they love.

Other people that shouldn’t go unmentioned for making my NYC cheese life so fulfilling are Jen Boylan-Sessa, Michael Anderson, and Amy Thompson. There are many more people beyond this small list of New Yorkers, they are out there in the smaller places and I hope to see them all soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cheese Images





Here are two sets of pics with images that didn't make it to the blog. Most pictures are taken with my iPhone.

Since, I am moving to China, a country with no cheese culture, this blog will start to include other foods. Mostly artisanal, but also traditional ways of cooking and eating. I hope to follow in the footsteps of a great blog that my boyfriend used to write. You can see his writings at Cooking Fire. It was in that space that I published my first blog post about being an apprentice at the caves of Murray's Cheese in New York.

Enjoy. Carlos
Lactographer

Adventures in Cheese-buying

The newest addition to the list of cheese stores in New York City is BKLYN Larder.

They have a nice working cave to hold their cheese and a good mixed selection of imported and American cheeses. The staff is nice, their signs are funny and the non-cheese selection really complete. Including some of their own in-house made cured meats and some meats from Dickson's.

I got a big chunk of Tractor Cheddar from VT and a small piece of Pantaleo from Italy. I had never tried the cheddar and I was looking for something easy to put in sandwiches. The Pantaleo was one of the cheeses in the dessert list at Lupa Osteria Romana in the city. I didn't have it there, because I was too full from an amazing fish dinner, so I wanted to try it.

Cheese selection @ BKLYN Larder - (Brooklyn, NY)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Flavoured cheese

Another question that I get is about cheeses that have added flavours. You know the type, jalapeño jack, dill harvarti, or truffle pecorino. I sense the question normally has two hidden agendas, depending on who asks.

On one side are the "amateurs," who want a guilty pleasure validated. On the other are the "experts," who are tasting my cheese knowledge. My answer always, for this and other questions about flavour is - eat what you like and if you have the opportunity look for non-commercial cheeses that only have natural flavours and not chemical compounds to give the extra taste.

Flavoured cheeses are not an invetion of modern cheesemaking. There are great European cheeses with a large tradition that have added flavours. My favourite of these type of cheeses is Brin d'Amour (also known as Fleur du Maquis). This Corsican cheese is covered with herbs and peppers which infuse the paste made with sheep's milk to give it a subtle pastoral flavour.

Many other European cheese have added flavours, amongst the most famous are: Pecorino Rosso, Aromes au Gene de Marc, Sage Derby, Taramundi and Nokkelost. In this category we should also consider the smoked cheeses and those wrapped in leaves like Banon or Valdeon (Blue). Of the smoked cheese the Italian - Ricotta Affumicata and the American smoked Mozzarella are two of the most famous in this family.

Lately, many Canadian and American creameries are debuting flavoured cheeses. Most famous is the amazing Barely Buzzed by Beehive Cheese Co. in Utah. This cheddar type cheese is rubbed with lavander and coffee to create a great dessert cheese. A new one that they also developed is SeaHive, which has honey and salt. I love this creamery not only because they are innovative, but also because they take risks and know their craft enough that they can turn a crazy idea into an awesome cheese.

Other amazing cheeses in this category are, the pungent Hoja Santa made with fresh goat milk's or the Rosemary Cheddar by Rouge Creamery or their Rouge River Blue.

Finally, there are collaborations between creameries and other food companies designing interesting mixes. Two that I tasted lately are made by Harpersfield Farmstead Cheese Co, both were semi-hard cheddar type cheeses. One had Raspberry Herbal Tea and the other was made with Lapsang Souchog Black Tea, both were commissioned by Harney and Sons tea.

Like always the mix is the result of the ingredients, in this case both the tea and cheese were of excellent quality, but their aging needs a little work. However, I recommend you getting some if you see them or if you buy tea. Remember that the only way that cheesemakers can improve their craft is by having people like you and me eating, tasting, and giving feedback. Here is a pic of the cheeses, apologies for the link, my computer is busted and my photo memory is lost in the immensity of the time machine.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cheese of the Week: Tronchetto Miele

This has to be one of the best flavored cheeses out there. The paste was chalky the underind full of goaty flavor and the rind had a hint of honey that got more pronounced as the cheese aged. Overall an amazing cheese.

The label has this little rant in Italian supporting raw milk: Il latte "crudo" e un alimento "vivo," non viene privato delle sue caratteristiche originaire e mantiene tutte le sue qualita.

I got this amazing cheese at the Formaggio's on Essex Market in NYC. Brooke the head monger at this cheese store is superb and always has great recommendations. A couple of weeks ago she recommended Papillon Pur Brebis Pave d'aveyron from Belgium.

Coming up a post on flavored cheeses, stay tuned...

Thanks to my fried Ale for my newest cheese-board.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cheese Solidarity

Since I started using Twitter, I have been following an awesome guy named the @CurdNerd. He is from New Zealand and is living in England and the person behind the #cheesesolidarity hash tag. His concept, as I understand it, is an easy one.

There are very few of us really committed to the idea of artisanal cheese and we should all support each other, but most importantly the small cheese makers. The problem is that because the profit margins are so small, some big players are getting territorial about their turf and markets. Unlike wine, cheese companies/retailers are not directly encouraging cheese connoisseurship. They have instead opted for the middleman model standing between cheese makers and cheese consumers. This is basically my whole problem with the international foodie circuit.

At the same time, some cheese experts are more worried about helping companies sell more cheese and less about helping cheese makers maintain their livelihoods, cultures and life styles. This late capitalist model prefers fancy over local, food as signifier of style rather than culinary cultures and it thrives from corporatization while obscuring craftsmanship.

It has been over a year now since I spoke about this in the 2009 Ontario Cheese Society annual meeting in Toronto, Canada. Back then I was pushing for a North American expertise of cheese. My remarks while welcomed were recieved with hesitation, especially from the big players.

Later in the year in my way to the Canary Islands for the WCA, I had the opportunity to talk to Jaime Montgomery from the now famous English cheddar. He like others and me in the event were worried about the direction that the cheese industry was going and wanted to change the emphasis to the craftmanship. I should point out that this is not just a conversation that existed with cheesers of the Anglo world; Spanish, French and Swiss judges expressed similar worries. Me as the only Latin American and the judge from South Africa were concerned that this marketization would destroy small local cheese farms in our counties. Giving way to a foodie market that rather consumes fancy food from factories bought at high-end markets than local productions from farmers and mongers.

Finally, after a brief conversation with Mateo Kehler, and other members of the American Cheese Society, I realized that the only thing I could do, was to directly link up with cheese makers to learn from them how we could ensure that their livelihoods were maintained for them, their families and their regions.

It is for this reason that I keep helping cheese makers in Chiapas pro bono and this summer I am planning to expand to help cheese makers in other regions of Mexico. I am also hoping to help start the Mexican Cheese Society.

In the mean time, I ask you to email me with suggestions and how to help cheese makers, opening markets, fighting lame legislation, finding funding and expertise, and connecting with cheesers all over the world.

In a sense keep the #cheesesolidarity going!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Culinary culture

If you follow me on twitter, you may know that I am fighting a very-familiar battle for cheesers out there. The battle is against big dairy corporations, their lobbyists and elected officials with no backbone. The fight is over pasteurization and this time the battleground is Mexico. However, the fight does not look much different in the rest of North America, Australia or New Zealand for that matter.

My battle is against a law proposed in the Federal Congress by the Ministry of Health that would outlaw cheesemaking using raw milk. The passage of the law would not only criminalize small artisanal producers, it will also constitute an assault to our culinary culture.

Yes, I know that both charges are really strong, but that is exactly what this proposed law (we'll call it NOM 243 by it's filling number) would do. Let me explain why and present the case for raw milk cheeses in an entirely Mexican context. If this sounds familiar to you, but you are not from Mexico or live there, it may be because a very similar situation exists in your country.

Let's start with a basic facts, Mexico did not have cheesemaking or any dairy industry before the colony. It was with the arrival of the Spanish and Italian monks that cheese made it's way to Mexico. This, however, does not mean that cheese is still foreign to Mexican cuisine. What it means is that cheese, like many other food ingredients in Mexican cooking, is a clear representation of a complex, varied, and vibrant culinary culture.

This culture inherits a strong indigenous sense with ingredients like corn, chilies, chocolate, cactuses, tomatoes, and vanilla. It borrows techniques from Spain like salting fish and meat and integrates milk (and it's by-products), bread and most meat into the cuisine. But the story does not end there. Mexican cuisines also learnt and incorporated French sauces, Italian meat curing, Chinese soups and broths, and we also use tahini and pickles from Mexicans whose backgrounds are Lebanese and Jewish. Increasingly our food is also influenced by new immigrants from Haiti, Argentina, Central America, Brazil, Korea and also from the US.

It is exactly within this diversity that Mexican cheese finds its place in our cuisines. Cheese in Mexico is not only a food product, for many is a way of life. Here I am talking of the small artisan producers who produce unique cheeses in all regions of the country. Think for a second of the Menonites of Chihuahua, the small communities (some indigenous peoples included) of Oaxaca and Chiapas who make Quesillo or Queso de Bola or Queso de Cuadro and of small ranchers in Michoacan who turn amazing raw milk into Cotija cheese. Those artisan cheesemakers learnt their craft from their grandparents who in turn learnt from their grandparents. Most of them use raw milk to make their cheeses. They have small herds that are taken care by the immediate family and worry a lot about the well-being of their cattle, their cheese and their customers.

If the proposed law passes, it would criminalize their way of living. Most of them would have to leave cheesemaking as they won't be able to afford pasteurizing machines and will rather sell milk for liquid consumption. Others would defy the law and continue making cheese with raw milk, but their productions will be pushed to the illegal market raising the real risk of having an outbreak of food-related illnesses from dairies that are not carefully inspected and regulated.

That situation already exist in Mexico, as there are laws in place for limiting the use of raw milk, but this law will completely outlaw this practice. Just to be sure, I am not advocating for no regulation. I am arguing that we don't need laws that prohibit completely traditional ways of cheesemaking and that instead we need strong mechanism for monitoring that the raw milk that is used for human consumption is clear and free of pathogens that can affect human health.

In a sense this proposed law is the option to solve a problem on the cheap. By outlawing all production of cheese with raw milk, the government only needs to enforce the law by sanctioning producers who go against the law. While establishing a monitoring system, guidelines, and trainings for dairy producers and cheesemakers, is expensive, labor intense and requires long term planning. Outlawing something from a comfy office in Mexico City is the easy way out.

The project that I am involved with in Chiapas to create a collective trademark for the Queso de Cuadro is the right solution. This project involves producers, farmers, government and academia in finding a way to maintain traditions while ensuring that cheesemaking is safe and clean. It is an initiative that has the backing of many stakeholders, making it a slow process, but at the same time it ensures that the ultimate decision would have the backing of all involved.

So what is it about raw milk? Why are so many of us fanatics of it and what does it have to do with Mexican culinary culture? Before I answer to these questions, let me tell you a short story about one of the cheese judging competitions that I hosted in Chiapas.

In my first trip to Chiapas, I tasted 45 samples of Queso de Cuadro. There were producers from the many regions of the state, and while most cheeses tasted similarly I was able to taste the terroir of the farms where these cheeses were produced. Those from the mountain region were dryer and fattier. The ones from the plains were more lactic (milky) with fresh smell of grass and those from the coast were sweet and aromatic (like tasting flowers). One cheese from the coastal region stood up in smell and flavor. It was sweeter than the others and the smell reminded of ripe fruit instead of flowers. After the competition, I asked the producer of this unique cheese about his herd, the location of his farm, the weather in the region and finally about the feed the cows eat. I was surprise to find out that while his dairy is similar to all other in the region the feed that he gave the cows included a stick of sugar cane in the middle of the day. He said that the cows loved the sugar and produced better milk. He said that he was worried that I was gonna ask him to stop feeding sugar canes to the cows. Instead I was for the first time realizing how much impact feed has on the final flavor of the cheese.

Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and pathogens in milk, but it also destroys all the complexities in the milk from the various aspects present in the terroir. This means that flavors are more generic and it really doesn’t matter where cheese is made, as no trace of the location where is made is maintained. However, taste alone is not enough to argue that milk should not be pasteurized, especially if there are concerns about the quality of the milk.

Here is exactly, where the minutia of the argument becomes relevant. The solution is to ensure better milk, cleaner and safer techniques, and also to care and be responsible for milk producers’ livelihoods. This is impossible to achieve when the only reasoning behind producing milk is to turn a profit. Milk, while treated as a commodity in economic markets, it is also a food for human consumption. However a lot of people, companies and farmers forget this. They only see dollar/peso sings in the liters/gallons of milk produced and not a food with nutritional value, a story and benefit for our population. Food companies are not in the business of feeding people, they are in the business of making profits with products that we all need daily.

We need to move away form this economic model, which is ending traditional ways of production and hurting our environment. The solution is smaller farms, local consumption and care for the trade of farming. This is why I advocate for raw milk, to support our dairy farmers who are willing to produce good milk for us because they love what they do, not because they want to turn a profit at expense of the animals and the consumers.

If you are interested in learning more about the campaign in Mexico against NOM 243 follow me on twitter (@carlosyescas) and make sure to be ready to talk about raw milk to everyone that needs help understanding why this matters.

For resources in English visit the Alliance for Raw Milk Internationale, they have info about similar movements all around the world.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cheese in Restaurants

One of the most common questions that people ask me is "what restaurants do you recommend to go eat cheese?" While there are many in New York and elsewhere. I am yet to find one where I feel that I am getting value for my money.

My problem is that for the US$16-24 dollars you could get better cheese, than the three/five tiny, mishandled/abused, old pieces of cheese you normally get. Still, I continue to try different restaurants and their cheese plates. I know that there will be a great restaurant soon. My only rule for choosing a restaurant where I would order a cheese plate is a good display. If you are able to see the cheese, either in a fridge (like the one in the pic), a display or a cart. These restaurants most of the times care a great deal about their selection and the cheese plate will be better.

In New York City try Casallula and Artisanal. My recommendation for Artisanal is to go during lunch, this way the cheesemonger will have more time to come to your table to explain the cheese you are getting and the selection will be better. Enjoy!

For amazing Mozzarella di Buffala fresh from Italy also in New York City go to Obika, just beware that the carbon miles of these delicious mozzarella balls should prevent you from using your car for about a week and plant a tree this spring.

Do you have recommendations? Let me know in the comments section.

This pic was taken at the Terzo Piano which is the restaurant at the Art Institute of Chicago. For a list of their cheese selection go here.

Adventures in Cheese-buying

Everyone in NYC told me I had to check out Pastoral when I travelled to Chicago, and they were right. Their selection of world cheeses is good, their American selection strong, but the best part is that they have cheeses from the Midwest that we normally don't get in NYC.

I visited the store twice, and while the first time the cheese selection was not as good. In my second visit, I got a great cheesemonger that was able to introduce me to great cheeses. Hail to the Savvy Cheesemonger! The second time I got:

Ewe Bloom - Prairie Fruits Farm (Champaign, IL) - Bloomy ewe's milk triangle made with pasteurized milk. Perfect gooey under-rind and chalking middle. Great for spring days. The taste as fresh, with a hint of pepper, but mostly really sheepy.

Little Darling - Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin (Wisconsin) - This hard cheese, is sharp to taste with a gorgeous cream color. The rind smells amazing, like walking into a moist cave and the texture is soft. This cheese reminded me of those small production cheddars from Ireland, it is made with cow's milk. Great cheese!

Marisa - Carr Valley (Wisconsin) - Sheep's milk cheese for those starting to experiment with non-cow's milk cheeses. This is a perfect example of what can be achieved if the cheese maker knows her trade. Flavor, smell and texture are perfect, creamy, and fatty. Wish I had bought more.

Cheese selection @ Pastoral Cheese - Loop (Chicago, IL)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Adventures in Cheese-buying

Blue Apron in Park Slope is quickly becoming my favorite cheese store in the city. They have a great selection of cheeses and it is close to my house in Brooklyn.

This time I got Fleur Vert, I use it as a substitute of cream cheese. Love it on toast in the morning. It is a fresh goat cheese enveloped in fresh herbs and juniper berries. Tangy, herbal, with a very green flavor.

Cheese selection @ Blue Apron Foods - Park Slope (Brooklyn, NY)

Adventures in Cheese-buying

I know that D&D played a key roll in bringing fine cheese to the US under the direction of Steven Jenkins, but lately their selection looks really old (stale). The cheddar's that they have from Neal's Yard looks really abused (meaning mis-handeled).

This is happening in a couple of places around the city, I think the slow recovery of the economy is still impacting cheese sales making it more difficult to move big quantities of expensive European cheese. The problem is that many of the big cheese stores are only able to make a profit because they buy big volumes at a discount - economies of scale. The trade-off is that if they cannot sell their inventories all their cheeses sit on shelves for longer periods of time. Stores are not a good environment for cheese, as they are normally too dry and most cheeses need regulated moisture in the environment to not crack or become old. Once a cheese is open, it is really difficult to keep in good shape in over-refrigerated environments.

A way to prevent that the selection looks old, is to have a good team of cheesemongers (no attitude is important) to take care of the cheese, but also to approach inexperienced customers that would like to buy something but are unsure about what to get. Good knowledgeable staff is difficult to come buy, specially when sales are low, however there are ways to ensure that your employees help sell more cheese. A good way is to give them a good environment to work (benefits, breaks, job stability) - if mongers are happy they will sell more cheese. I know this from experience. Sheridan's Cheesemongers in Ireland is a great little company that cares for its employees and when I was there it was easy to sell cheese because people weren't worry about their job.

Dean and Deluca is still a good option to get cheese, they are conveniently located in the city and have good quality. They just need to ensure that cheesemongers are happy, approachable and they will do the rest by selling more cheese. Their cheese needs more attention and love.

Cheese selection @ Dean and Deluca -SoHo (New York, New York)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

2010 World Cheese Awards


The 2010 World Cheese Awards takes place at BBC Good Food, Birmingham, UK 24-28 November.

For more information visit the 2010 World Cheese Awards page.

If you are interested in sponsoring this leading dairy event click here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The High and Low Politics of Cheese

The cheese talk at the New School went great. I got great questions and examples from the students. However, I was surprised that only a bunch of them knew about production of milk by conglomerates. After all, I would have guessed that most of them would have watched Food Inc. or read one of the many popular books on food culture. My surprise was that these students are in a Food Studies program, and I would have guessed that they would be more aware of the contemporary discussions about food safety.

I cannot explain what this means, but sure I can think of a couple of reasons of why some people are so involved with these discussions, while others seem to have missed those news reports about recalls of contaminated foods. Perhaps is the fact that so far the dairy industry has been careful enough to avoid a major outbreak of listeria or other related sickness from contaminated milk. I am not saying that milk produced by conglomerates is contaminated, but that there are some cautionary warnings from the way other products in our food supply have suffered that could point to potential risk in milk production as well, including treatment of animals, feed, and worker’s rights.

Some people that I have talked about this mentioned that a lot of the discussions about food safety are perceived by a majority to be a very complicated issue better to be left to experts, while they worry about how to “pay the bills.” This I call the high politics argument (I am a PhD Politics student after all). Others have mentioned that while people are aware of the issues, there is not much that the common person can do and better not to worry about it much and hope for the best. A good friend of mine called this "the politics of consumer choice - those politics that I can only act on in the supermarket aisle." These are the "low politics of cheese." The distinction is not economic, but rather substantive about how to approach food culture.

My concern is how do we connect the two? What needs to happen / or is already happening that would allow us to connect our consumer choices with the necessary changes at the macro food level to ensure that we have healthy options for all while at the same time we provide food that is safe? Maybe the solution really is more local production, and sure I am a supporter of it.

However, the kids in my class seem unconvinced. I guess there is a lot of work that still needs to be done.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cuttting the cheese

As you may have guessed by now, I am trying to be serious about cheese; this normally means reading, tasting, and immersing myself more and more in the world of cheese. Another way of being serious about it is by teaching classes and trying to expand my knowledge by hearing what other people have to say while teaching. This is why I keep taking classes at Murray's Cheese and at any other places that offer new topics. NYC is great for that as so many of the cheese stores have an educational program.

However, this time I am doing something different. I will be teaching a condensed version of my Cheese Politics class at the New School. My friend Maya is teaching Food Politics here and invited me to talk about Cheese as a food full of politics.
As a good Academic, I consider this opportunity unique. Not only because it is at my graduate institution, but because the topics that I hope to explore are different. The first difference with my other classes is that this one won't have a tasting component. That is really difficult when talking about a food that it is so much about the smell, the texture, and the flavor. However, what I hope to do is to talk about cheese as a political process, not just the making and aging of it, but also all the decisions that are taken in its commercialization, consumption, popularization, and fame.

I hope to learn as much as I hope to teach this group of students. I will have a full report on it, as I think it will be a great tool to understand how people see cheese not just as a food to enjoy, but also a food with a cultural/political baggage.

On a different topic: The knives and cheese cutting utensils are mine. I was cleaning them over the weekend and took a picture of them for the blog, but didn’t know how to use it. Here they are for your reference. I know the names of some of them, but not all. If you recognize them post their names in the comments.

Monday, April 5, 2010