The Cheese Chronicles: A Journey Through the Making and Selling of Cheese in America, From Field to Farm to Table
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The Cheese Chronicles: A Journey Through the Making and Selling of Cheese in America, From Field to Farm to Table

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  115 ratings  ·  43 reviews
The Cheese Chronicles is an insider's look at the burgeoning world of American cheese from one lucky person who has seen more wedges and wheels, visited more cheesemakers, and tasted more delicious (and occasionally stinky) American cheese than anyone else. Liz Thorpe, second in command at New York's renowned Murray's Cheese, has used her notes and conversations from hundr...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Ecco (first published 2009)
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Petra X aka Bubbles
This book is kind of fascinating but I can't pin down exactly why.

The author was the cheese buyer for a famous cheese shop in New York that supplied the top restaurants. As such her job took her to just about every single cheese-making operation in the US.

We aren't talking about Kraft Slices or Shur-fine here, no we are talking grass-fed, goat, sheep or cow-milk cheese "covered in a bloomy white mould with a line of ash" through the middle with a taste that can be described only by resorting t...more
Stacy
I love cheese. I eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner. And though I can enjoy a fancy cheese purchased at a cheesemonger or cheese counter of a local gourmet shop, and though I know the basics of dairy, such as grass fed is better than confinement grain-fed or the downside of pasteurization, I really am not very educated in the world of cheese. I like to know more about the different types, how to really taste the differences, and how to branch out and try something new. Where to start?

This boo...more
Stephanie
Highly enjoyable read with mouth-watering descriptions of cheese. Makes me want to go and blow my whole paycheck on cheese. My only critique is that the organization of the book leaves something to be desired. I have to keep checking which chapter I am on and then puzzle over how what I am reading somehow relates to her chapter topics. Great book for a crash course in American cheese (NOT the Kraft singles kind).
Ashland Mystery Oregon
Liz Thorpe is a remarkable cheesemonger, and must have an exceptional palate and nose. What luck too! to find a profession so rewarding, and at a time when American artisan cheese was poised to plate in restaurants and homes around the country.

Thorpe's Cheese Chronicles is a must read introduction to the American artisan cheese movement. She covers every aspect of its making thoroughily and so readably. I love that each chapter focuses on specific regions and cheesemakers, and that she has perso...more
Michelle
(3.5 stars) The author takes the reader on several excursions through the world of cheese in this book. she mixes in her own initiation and experiences with cheese, from eating and experimenting with different styles of cheese, working at a cheese counter, buying cheese at the wholesale level, and traveling to taste different styles and makers of cheese. She covers the cheese-making process particularly from the perspective of an artisan producer. Most of the book is dedicated to discussing smal...more
Ellie
You know that phrase "The cheese stands alone?" Well, before reading this book I had few reasons not to use that saying and the terms "American Cheese" in the same sentence. The AC of my experience is a gross slice of rubbery plastic that makes me want to hurl. Through a leisure reading of this book, I now view American cheese (emphasis on the lower case c) as a smorgasbord of incredible flavors, textures, creation methods, creativity, ingenuity, and of course the stories behind their births and...more
Dave
Very good overview of some top-notch cheese producers working in the United States, with a lot of interesting anecdotes that convey the personalities involved. Ms. Thorpe has a tendency to flowery tasting notes, something I don't find particularly helpful, but her enthusiastic prose clearly stems from her passion for the topic.

I agree with a previous reviewer that the organization of the producers was not the most helpful, particularly if one wanted to use it as a reference when shopping. The ch...more
Caitlin
Jul 21, 2010 Caitlin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Cheese-lovers and foodies.
Recommended to Caitlin by: Dad
Shelves: food
I would really like to be Liz Thorpe's friend (free cheese handouts?) I would also really like to have her job. Or maybe the job of all those awesome American artisan and farmstead cheese-makers she profiles. As an amateur cheese-maker, I learned a lot from this book, which covers many aspects of the cheese industry, from dairying to cheese-making to tasting to business. I also found it inspiring and idea-planting, as so many of the cheese-makers profiled have taken home-spun and serendipitous r...more
minervasowl
The five-star rating comes with a small caveat: this book is amazing ... as long as you are enthusiastic about cheese and interested in learning more about the different kinds of cheese being made in the United States. If you are a snob about cheese and are convinced that only the French can make a triple cream brie and only grate imported Parmigiano-Reggiano over your pasta, then either move along or be prepared to have your eyes opened and your horizons broadened.

I don't speak cheese any bette...more
Joseph Carley
This book is an homage to fromage (he he). It's organized around the best American cheeses as selected by a VP at Murray's in NY. She goes through each style of cheese, selects the best American examples, and tells the story of the dairies that produce them. The stories are a little too personal for my taste. I didn't really care to hear that much about her early faux-pauxs and the development of her palate. Her enthusiasm for telling the story of each dairy is great, but the format of reviewing...more
Jennybeast
Sort of a magnum opus of cheese – a handbook of the growing phenomenon of well-made cheeses in America. Sounds a bit deadly, but is so winningly written and engaging that it’s more of a brilliant field guide to our native cheese, and it sent me out looking for some of our local purveyors at the Farmer’s Market. What I appreciate about Liz Thorpe is that while she is clearly comfortable in the rarefied air of the New York gourmet scene, her book doesn’t hesitate to take a hard look at more common...more
Hilary
The most delightful book about cheese and people who make cheese that I've ever read (and I've read quite a few). I couldn't put it down, and I dreamed about cheese after reading it. One caveat: probably more interesting to people with access to Murray's, as much of the book reads like an incredible cheese shopping list. But Thorpe's journey from the basement of Eli's to the top of Murray's is a captivating read with a few laugh-out-loud moments. I wonder if she'd grant a former strategist, curr...more
Johnny Williams
Well let me say I am not so sorry I read this -- but it is going down on the 3rd shelf of my bookcase-- which means i won't suggest any of my friends actually pay for it-- It does not go into any depth to speak of on best way to pick a cheese or individual cheeses attributes etc-- so
If you are looking for a travel log of Liz Thorpe's life running around to cheese makers and her life in general -- its OK -- if you are looking for an in depth study of American cheeses -- don't pick this one up--
Kim
Part memoir, part guide to types of cheese and specific producers and varieties in the U.S. Liz Thorpe achieves what is unfortunately all too rare: the food writer without pretension. Most writers resort to florid prose in talking about food, but Thorpe manages to be down-to-earth as well as descriptive. In fact the whole book is written in a chatty, engaging style that I really liked. Recommended for anyone looking to learn more about the growing number of smaller cheesemakers in the United Sta...more
Stacey
As an aspiring goat cheesemaker, I found the book very interesting, and gave me a few ideas. However, if I wasn't interested in making my own cheese, I would think the abundance of tasting notes on so many different cheeses could get tiresome. I would hope other readers, especially those without experience raising animals, will read this and want to buy local/regional or at least from a cheesemaker where they know the animals were treated well.
Kara
I found myself actively reading this great chronicle of American cheese (not the Kraft singles). That is, I often picked up some of the mouth-watering specimens described in Thorpe's chronicle so I could truly understand the descriptions and make my own notes. This is a fantastic reference for anyone who likes cheese and wants to know more about the not too shabby options available in the U.S.
Gini
I wish I could give half stars, because this would be three and a half if I could. I enjoyed her descriptions of the farms and farmers where cheese is being made in America, and I'm keeping the book around as a reference for when I go cheese shopping. It's a bit encyclopedic, and it makes comparing one cheese to another a little tougher than it should be. A decent resource, though.
KatieSuzanne
Dec 07, 2010 KatieSuzanne is currently reading it
My mother gave this to me as a gift and even though it's over 300 pages long and just about cheese it's really easy to read and super interesting. However, I did not anticipate before starting this book, my issue with wanting to eat whatever is being eaten in the books I'm reading. Within the first 100 pages I have already finished off a few pounds of cheese.
Paul Childs
Not as interesting as I had hoped it would be. Learned a lot about cheese without a doubt, but I found some parts of the book to be not very interesting. I thought it would be more about cheeses. Instead it dealt with cheeses, but talked too much about the farms that produce them and the people that run those farms. I didn't find that as interesting.
Michael Gray
An excellent book about cheese, which suffers only from, um, being about cheese. Ms. Thorpe is an engaging and funny writer, and amuses me to no end when telling stories, but I bogged down a little in chapters full of tasting notes.

Recommended, but it took me a couple of weeks to chug through, and it may be wise to skip past a few pages here and there.
Karen
Interesting book about cheese and the american history of cheese. I thought there was too much review of certain makers of cheese but probably only because I can't get most of those here. If I lived in NYC near the store she works at it might be interesting to take this manual and go through tastings of all the cheese.
tiffany
although i do not eat cheese (vegan) this was a very thorough and feels as if you have completely exhausted the cheese in america coast to coast; even though she readily allows that there are too many to count not included. if i ate cheese i would systematically go through her lists trying her recommendations.
Betsy
Jan 09, 2011 Betsy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
This was an informative book on artisan American cheese. I learned new facts about the making of cheese, the production of cheese, and many new cheeses to look out for at the market. The U.S. has come a long way in small-scale cheesemaking over the past few decades.
Andrew
Certainly a book for cheese lovers and a highly informative look at American cheese makers and what makes their products special.

The worst part about reading this book is finding out just how many of these cheeses aren't locally available.
Heidi
Selections and anecdotes of American cheese - entertaining and informative at times but I didn't feel that I came out of it better prepared to navigate the overwhelming selections of cheeses out there.
Sarah
Interesting to read the chapter or two about cheese making, but this book has many, many more details about specific American cheeses. You have to really care about specialty cheese to enjoy.
Laura
I liked the way it was written. Informative but also personal experience. You definitely want to try a few new cheeses while and after reading. The cheese aisle looks very different afterwards.
Ellen
I liked this one, but I found the reviews of individual cheeses kind of boring. I would have liked more personal stories from her visits to the farms and her life in the industry.
Kerry
Jun 26, 2011 Kerry is currently reading it
My boyfriend bought me this book because he knows me very well and knows I love cheese enough to possibly enjoy a book entirely about it. How wonderful is he?!
Fletcher
Either you possess an interest in the current state of quality, American, cheese production or you don't. That will determine your desire to read this book.
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