April 26, 2005
"Cheese feeds a variety of obsessions"
Posted by Gordon Smith

The NYT has a feature article on cheese obsession in New York City, which it calls "a  center of cheese enthusiasm." (Amusing how often Saul Steinberg's "A View of the World  from Ninth Avenue" comes to mind when reading the NYT.) I like to say nice things in my cheese entries, but I will make an exception in this instance: this article could not have been written by a cheese lover because she affords so little space to cheese! The article is about people who love cheese, but if you are one of those people, you cannot go so long without writing something more heartfelt about the cheese itself. Yes, the article is sprinkled with occasional references to this or that cheese, but the focus is always on what people are doing with the cheese rather than on the cheese itself. For example:

One recent morning, Mr. Liss transferred Fleur-de-Lis, a triple cream from Louisiana that looks like a large white Hershey's Kiss with the top lopped off, onto racks in one of five Artisanal's aging caves, which are like walk-in coolers with a funky aroma.

Or this ...

Hard-core enthusiasts may seek out formaggio di fossa, an Italian sheep's milk cheese that is aged in the ground, but few would go as far as Cielo Peralta, a worker at Murray's since 1995 who has had one buried in his backyard in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for a year. He lovingly slathers pumpkinseed oil on its mottled surface every few months.

Some interesting stories, but the article gives almost no sense for why these folks are obsessed with cheese. Why, for example, would Diana Pittet quit teaching Latin to work at Neal's Yard Dairy, then start a dissertation about American cheddars at New York University? Because cheese is about history, romance, sensual pleasure, discovery, craft, etc. You will not find any of that in this article. But you might like the slideshow.

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