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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

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  169 Ratings  ·  56 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 hund

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Paperback, 400 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Ecco (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Petra Eggs
Apr 27, 2010 Petra Eggs rated it really liked it
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
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Nicole Means
Jan 18, 2016 Nicole Means rated it it was amazing
Thorpe’s anthology lacks the pretention of other cheese anthologies that I have read. For instance, rather than pontificating about the most appropriate cheese-making technique, Thorpe personifies cheese as a living, living breathing entity. (Although not part of her cheese tour, she classifies Velveeta and Kraft Singles as “flacid”—that mental image just makes me giggle!) Furthermore, the cheese-makers she encounters along her journey truly love their craft and believe that mediocre cheeses, wh ...more
Stacy
Dec 17, 2009 Stacy rated it it was amazing
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
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Stephanie
Sep 10, 2009 Stephanie rated it liked it
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).
Rachel
Jan 17, 2017 Rachel rated it liked it
It was probably unwise to start a book dedicated to cheese right after I made a resolution to start eating more healthy. I was completely unable to handle the descriptions of all the many cheeses as I waited for my lunch hour. My carefully prepared healthy meal suddenly seemed woefully inadequate after the descriptions of delicious and luxurious sounding milky delights. And while this book is not entirely what I expected, I learned a lot about American cheese production that I never knew before. ...more
Cindi (cheesygiraffe)
Pretty good book about the way American cheeses have evolved over the last 30 years where Americans now are stepping up in the world cheese market.
There are so many cheeses that I want to try thanks to Liz Thorpe writing this book.

I took 19 months to finally finish reading this but I am definitely glad I did. I hope her new book comes out this Spring. I also have a couple more cheese books I need to bump up on my reading queue. Cheesemonger by Gordon Edgar and Cheese Primer by Steven Jenkins.
Randy Hirt
Feb 01, 2017 Randy Hirt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Jonathan Gold of Cheese

just the way she describes cheese even if youre not a foodie is fun and entertaining. You can taste her passion and love of cheese.

Of course just because someone loves something doesnt make it worth reading, but the personalized intimate stories of the cheese makers and farmers is the difference maker.

Anyone who reads Jonathan Gold, the preeminent food critic, will appreciate her writing...Gold is the Gold Standard and she is in that or close to that level of writing.
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Alexa
Oct 07, 2010 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My Mom gave me this book because I love cheese. The book discusses the history and future of American cheese - and not the stuff that comes in pre-wrapped single slices. The main idea is that American cheesemakers are producing cheese that is competitive with the finest imported cheese. Each chapter has a theme (sheep cheese, goat cheese, factory cheese, etc.) and following that chapter, the author includes notes on various cheesemakers who fall within the theme. The chapters are very educationa ...more
KatieSuzanne
Dec 07, 2010 KatieSuzanne rated it it was amazing
2010: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.
2016: I finally finished this book. Each day as I blow dried my hair I'd read about another kind of cheese so it took me awhile. It w
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Michelle
Oct 04, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
(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
Rogue Reader
Sep 03, 2012 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it
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
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Ellie
Feb 03, 2012 Ellie rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 12, 2010 Dave rated it really liked it
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
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minervasowl
Dec 26, 2012 minervasowl rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food-cooking, cheese
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
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Caitlin
Jun 23, 2010 Caitlin rated it really liked it
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
Nyna
Sep 07, 2015 Nyna rated it really liked it
The author takes us on a journey of the development of American fine cheese production (not like Kraft). I was surprised how young the American market is and how quickly it has developed. Liz Thorpe is a vice president of Murray Cheese in New York and is in charge of their restaurant and wholesale customers, including Whole Foods and The French Laundry Restaurant. She also gives courses to the wait staff of her clients. This book is a combination of a story on how she came to her position, an ex ...more
grundoon
Sep 23, 2012 grundoon rated it really liked it
3.5 This managed to both exceed and fall short of expectations. Or perhaps it was simply unexpected. I set it aside a couple of years ago when within 50 pages we seemed to be done with personal story and moving on to "cheese basics"... my tolerance level for autobiography/reference mashups is pretty low - they are rarely much of either, and they abound in the culinary world. Well, it turns out that when this one turned a corner, it's into a bit of an educational tour of the U.S. small-scale chee ...more
Joseph Carley
Sep 21, 2010 Joseph Carley rated it liked it
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
Hilary
Aug 03, 2011 Hilary rated it liked it
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
Jennybeast
Aug 02, 2012 Jennybeast rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, farm
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
Johnny Williams
Jan 23, 2010 Johnny Williams rated it liked it
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
Aug 13, 2011 Kim rated it really liked it
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
Kate
Jun 14, 2015 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Probably 2.5 stars. This is a book about cheese. I expected more anecdotes. Or more interesting anecdotes. Kind of dragged a bit. Could have used some editing. If I lived in the US, I'd probably have been more excited. And if I were a crazy foodie, I would have probably given this about a b'zillion stars.

So .. if you are located in the US, LOVE LOVE LOVE cheese and are a crazy foodie, read this book.

Otherwise .. I'd give it a pass.
Stacey
Sep 08, 2010 Stacey rated it really liked it
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.
Michael Gray
Mar 25, 2010 Michael Gray rated it liked it
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.
Paul Childs
Jul 23, 2011 Paul Childs rated it liked it
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.
Stefanie
Feb 07, 2016 Stefanie rated it really liked it
A very interesting look at the world of American cheesemaking, which has come a long way in the past few decades. My only regret is that I don't live near a store with the kind of cheese case that Thorpe curates so that I could try even a fraction of the cheeses she describes. I think I have inadvertently had a cheese from one of the Wisconsin cheesemakers, and it was remarkable.
Kara
Sep 25, 2009 Kara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-books
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.
Anthony
I didn't finish this book, partly because I ran out of time and had to return it to the library before I moved, but also because it wasn't quite what I had hoped for. The introduction and first few chapters on some of the background of the different cheeses and how they are made was great. The catalogue of tastings was less interesting to me, but may be up the alley of other cheese heads.
Dixie Flapper Blog
Jun 13, 2011 Dixie Flapper Blog rated it liked it
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.
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