Whether shopping at gourmet markets or at Costco, American consumers are seeing a growing, even dizzying, array of new cheeses. But as the number of cheeses has grown, so has the intimidation factor. Recognizing this disconnect between our voracious appetite for cheese and our often-sketchy knowledge of it, acclaimed cheese expert Laura Werlin decided it was high time to demystify the cheese-buying experience. Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials — a comprehensive introduction in a convenient guidebook format — is the extremely useful result.
Werlin’s book begins at the same place the flummoxed shopper does: the cheese counter. After mapping out the basics for navigating this daunting environment, Werlin acquaints you with the cheese fundamentals: the different kinds of milk used, information on rinds and mold, and tips on cooking with cheese, as well as a few words on Werlin’s passion, the American artisanal cheese movement.
The heart of the book consists of individual chapters on the eight styles of cheese: fresh, semi-soft, soft-ripened, surface-ripened, semi-hard, hard, blue, and washed-rind. Following Werlin’s guidance, you’ll soon be able to identify a cheese by how it looks — and have a good idea of what that cheese will taste like before you even take a bite.
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