Good, but getting out of date
A good introduction to cheese, with details about specific European cheeses (especially French) for the more advanced cheesehead. Good general overviews of the countries, and comments about some of the strengths and short-comings of each. Unfortunately, this book is going on 12 years old so it's almost irrelevant for locating specific cheeses.
The section on the U.S. is especially out-of-date as the artisinal industry has continued to explode since publishing. Worth a buy and a browse for $10, but there must be something better out there.
holy cow, goat, and sheep!
Working in the specialty department of whole foods market, and having tasted my way through a hundred cheeses, i needed to know more! this book is great-- more about cheese than you would ever want or need to know. I picked this book because it is the reference book we use at work, and it explained way more different cheeses than any 5 books combined. the author is very opinionated--i dont agree with some of his blacklisted cheeses, but he is passionate about cheese. and cheese is an honorable thing to be passionate about. great book! and the wine pairings are very helpful--
Great book on cheese
I was sold when I saw this book displayed at my favorite cheese counter. I use this text to find wine and cheese matches, but it also has a wealth of opinionated information on cheese itself. I love cheese, and I love this book.
A Thorough Introduction to the World of Cheese
STEVE JENKINS CHEESE PRIMER is a great overview of how cheeses are made, what regions of world produce which cheeses and general information about how to serve them.
Though truthfully this book offers way too much information to digest in any one sitting - without a morsel to taste, I have found the information contained here valuable in figuring out how to approach such a broad subject.
The biggest thing I have learned is that there is no real way to learn about most great cheeses in the United States. Thanks to government regulations that do not allow merchants to sell non-pasteurized cheeses, we Yanks are prevented from tasting the most remarkable ones -- widely available in France, Italy, Switzerland and Spain.
Still I do recommend this book because Jenkins knows his stuff. With 20 years experience tasting and buying cheese for Dean & DeLuca, Balducci's and Fairway (three of Manhattan's legendary specialty markets), he's traveled the world and sampled it all. And he's not a snob. He's good at translating his knowledge into information that anyone can relate to.
I think this book would be fantastic for a book club, though I doubt any would consider reading it. Still it would be wonderful if each week the club covered a different chapter and offered a trio of cheeses that best exemplified the regions Jenkins covers.
-- Regina McMenamin
The Best Introduction to Cheese
Steven Jenkins has written 'a passionate guide
to cheese'. He may well be, as the cover copy
claims 'America's most opinionated authority'.
What makes this book the most important volume
on the subject right now is that the man has
tasted most of the world's cheeses and has or-
ganized his careful tasting notes in a way that
makes them easy to access.
His geographical sections are sprinkled with
sidebars that are often interesting or useful
and his writing style is bubbly and fun.
It's true that this book is in no way a primer.
It's not about first principles, and some of what
it has to say is just plain wrong. Fat doesn't
float because it's heavier than water, (p.15)
for instance and the best wine to serve with
a cheese is only occasionally one from the
same region (many of the best dairy lands aren't
in wine country).
Of course, any book that calls itself opinionated
is going to have opinions that provoke disagreement.
There are also going to be holes in the en-
cyclopedic fabric. (Steve, how could you have missed
Austria's Voralberger Bergk?se?)
Quibbles aside, this is an author who cares about
one of the good things in life and has devoted his
time, taste and intelligence to sharing that thing
with the rest of us. The result is a book that will
bring a lot of pleasure and be used as a reference
for many years. For less than the cost of a pound
of Reggiano, this is a great buy.
Lynn Hoffman, author of THE NEW SHORT COURSE IN WINE
and the forthcoming novel bang-BANG from Kunati Press.