Cheese Thought

Old World and New World Cheeses-Anne Mendelson

“In the long territorial stretch of the Old World that I came to think of as ‘Yogurtistan,’ people have until recently been much closer than we are to the primal origins of both dairying and cooking with dairy foods.  The Indian sub-continent also preserves more links with an ancient past.  So do the Russian reaches of western Asia along with adjacent Eastern Europe; the dominant form of sour milk there isn’t yogurt, but continuity still exists with a tradition in which milk was almost invariably fermented before people thought of consuming it or cooking with it.  The big global exceptions to the pattern today are northwestern Europe, Great Britain, and several parts of the world-including North America-that became British or French colonies.  In the mother countries something happened, only a few centuries ago, to start a huge commercial concentration on two forms of milk that had been little known, or even unknown, among other dairying peoples.  They were fresh unsoured milk and its linear opposite: ripened or aged cheese.

Before this direction, there hadn’t been anything remarkably odd about these regions except that they had a high proportion of people with the globally rare ability to digect the lactose in sweet milk throughout their adult lives- a genetic fluke that didn’t stop sour milk and fresh cheeses from being cornerstones of household dairying for centuries or, more likely, millennia.  But after cheeses proliferated as specialties destined for particular markets and sweet milk for drinking began to be produced in large volumes for urban clienteles, northwestern Europe and Britain never looked back.  (The first change happened about four or five hundred years ago, the second toward the start of the nineteenth century. )  It’s this heritage that has chiefly shaped American perceptions of dairy foods.” (p. ix, The Surprising Story of Milk Throughout the Ages, Anne Mendelson)

The cheese of the peasants, when milk and fermented products were intimate and every day.  I am going to go to Eastern Europe to discover both heritage and the roots of this culture that still remains today.  People often forget that artisan cheese is not only a particular bourgeois market, but also a way of life that every person can take part in.

The Old Word pumps through my veins and calls my name…

2 thoughts on “Old World and New World Cheeses-Anne Mendelson

    • hello, thanks for the inquiry. My twitter is cheeseinthecity. I have not been writing lengthy articles on the blog recently, but have been tweeting and instagraming projects.

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