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Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization
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Cheese and Culture: A History of Cheese and Its Place in Western Civilization

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  106 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
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. Chee ...more
Hardcover, 253 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Chelsea Green Publishing Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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May 22, 2013 Forrest rated it liked it
Wisconsin is famous for a few things: Beer, brats, Green Bay Packers, the birthplace of Dungeons & Dragons, UW Badgers, Happy Days and, most of all, CHEESE! I'm a transplant to Wisconsin, having moved here in 1996 for graduate school. We love it here. We raised our children here. I became a cheese snob here.

So when I saw Cheese and Culture at the local library, I knew that I had to read it.

To say it wasn't the most fun of reads is an understatement.

You see, I have a Master's degree in Histor
Dec 13, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
An enthusiastic attempt to chart the entire world's history of cheese, by a cheeseologist who became interested in history (as opposed to a historian who is interested in cheese). It's a tertiary-source sort of book -- everything's footnoted, but all his sources are academic papers and books and so on. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that he doesn't come off as a careful historian sort of person. He's eager to speculate where evidence is lacking, and evidence is pretty well lacking when you ...more
Linda Harkins
Aug 21, 2012 Linda Harkins rated it really liked it
Reading this reminded me of reading EXTRA VIRGINITY: THE SUBLIME AND SCANDALOUS WORLD OF OLIVE OIL. This time I learned more than I ever hoped to know about cheese. Painstakingly researched by a professor at the University of Vermont, Kindstedt points out the strong connection between religion and cheese production. The monastery was Europe's premier economic engine of the Middle Ages. Thanks to the ingenuity of the Benedictines and Cistercians, cheeses of great diversity were produced during th ...more
Jan 01, 2013 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Some favorite quotes:

Every time he uses the word "transhumance"

..."with grave consequences to cheese quality"

"lactage police" - a phrase which, after Googling, I realize is not a really cool, bizarrely specific term, but is totally made up by the author

I thought the book was really interesting, especially as he got into more modern history (i.e. 1600, 1700s). In the beginning, there's a lot of willingness to speculate about cheese history because the evidence simply isn't there. I think, as a ch
Peter Szabo
Dec 14, 2016 Peter Szabo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absolute must for any cheese enthusiast. I found the early chapters a bit tough going as I was personally less interested in the very early history. But the rest of the book is excellent. Well researched and written, and very interesting.
Mary Catelli
Jun 21, 2013 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
This book starts out a bit slow, covering irrelevant bits of human history, but before it gets a dozen pages in, it has managed to reach the relevant portion: the Neolithic era, where the changing composition of bones from domestic animals points to their being dairy, not meat, producers, and the milk fat on pottery shards. Approximately a thousand years before adult lactose tolerance appeared, so they were making butter and cheese even then, to make it digestible by adults.

Discussing the techni
Feb 11, 2013 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-history
It is extremely difficult to write a general history on a topic and have it be interesting. Sadly, this book was not able to accomplish that goal. The topic has a lot of potential that I felt was lost as Prof. Kindstedt's seems to have only transcribed his class lectures into a book. A book that spent a lot of time describing the politics of ancient trade routes and not much time describing the cheese-making. A book that made me feel as though I was loosing valuable moments of my life.

It did, h
Jan 21, 2013 William rated it liked it
This book was OK, not great. I was hoping that this book would be to cheese what the book Salt was to salt, but it was a big let down.

First, it is really dry in the beginning the author did not do a very good job of telling a story. He basically just wrote down facts. 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
May 11, 2013 Andrea rated it it was ok
Had higher expectations than what I got. Was hoping for an anthropological account of cheese production and consumption. Instead the author goes through pain staking historical details since the beginning of agriculture. The title of the book would lead one to believe that the audience is a bit more sophisticated than your average reader, not sure why the author felt the need to do a deep dive in early agriculture, god worship of the classics, inception of the industrial age, and much more. Not ...more
Scooter Burch
Feb 10, 2013 Scooter Burch rated it liked it
This book made me want to eat nothing but cheese, all the time. It was very inspiring on that front! It's a little dry in places, and at times functions as a Western Civ course that occasionally mentions cheese in what seems like an after-thought. Basically, there isn't a whole lot of tangible evidence of how cheese was made before the middle ages; a lot of the first few chapters is speculation. It's interesting nonetheless.

Since I am borderline obsessed with cheese, I enjoyed this book. However
Jada Roche
May 05, 2013 Jada Roche rated it liked it
I wanted to like this. Oh I wanted to. And the subject matter IS interesting but the writing...sigh. Let me put it this way. 10 times I picked this up, excited because I really do enjoy micro histories and it tied in with some other stuff. 10 times I started reading. 10 times I fell asleep.

I do not simply fall asleep while reading. This hasn't happened since I was 8.

My lover suggested I keep it around for those nights when insomnia hits. Har.

Perhaps someone else will have better luck with it. I
Jun 23, 2013 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, food
Very interesting and easy to read. He never forgets that he's writing for a lay audience. Lots of information on how different types of cheeses are made, the problems of making cheese for export, and the history of different cheese popularity. I would be interested in a more in-depth book but this was a great introduction to the subject.
May 31, 2015 Kylie rated it really liked it
If you're looking to understand why France is known for their soft cheeses while Italy is all about those hard grating cheeses this is your book. I enjoyed this book but general familiarity with both Western history and cheese types are necessary to get the most out of this book. Overall a great history that places cheese development and evolution in the larger picture of human development.
May 04, 2012 Kari rated it it was ok
This wasn't quite what I thought it would be. It's a book adapted from, and expanding on, a college course taught by the author. While I did learn a few things, it was more repetitive than I expected.
Jul 20, 2013 Catherine rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
This book was so insanely boring I couldn't finish it. It wasn't so much a history of cheese and cheese making, but a generic survey of Western Civ, with the occasional mention of cheese. I tried to pick it up again, but just couldn't get into it. I *wanted* to like this book.
Theresa Porter
Jan 01, 2014 Theresa Porter rated it it was ok
Well researched but rather dry. The repeated quotes from the christian bible in every chapter (unrelated to cheese) became tedious.
Sep 08, 2012 Kirk rated it liked it
Interesting if somewhat dry history of cheese.
Oct 07, 2012 Emma rated it it was amazing
Wonderful! Admittingly it took some getting through and I wanted to eat expensive cheese throughout the entire process...but is that really a bad thing?
Kathleen McRae
Oct 25, 2015 Kathleen McRae rated it liked it
There were some interesting bits of history in this book if they are accurate This book was not cohesive and if you are writing about cheese and religion say that not cheese and culture
Jul 04, 2015 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: food, science
A bit dry, but interesting and informative.
Jul 11, 2013 Claudia rated it it was amazing
Truly phenomenal look at the history of Cheese from antiquity to today...stories, fun facts, science...all in one package. Hungry - making.
S Napier
S Napier rated it really liked it
Dec 10, 2016
Shaun Kenney
Shaun Kenney rated it liked it
Oct 19, 2014
Keiko rated it it was ok
Apr 27, 2016
Michael rated it liked it
Apr 10, 2015
Michelle rated it liked it
Jun 05, 2013
Bob Kaiser
Bob Kaiser rated it really liked it
Oct 13, 2012
Ariel rated it it was amazing
May 15, 2013
Jen rated it it was ok
Apr 02, 2012
Jeffrey Mcdonald
Jeffrey Mcdonald rated it really liked it
Jul 16, 2014
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