American Cheese: An Indulgent Odyssey Through the Artisan Cheese World (Paperback)
From the author of Away with Words, a deeply hilarious and unexpectedly insightful deep-dive into a cultural and culinary phenomenon: cheese.
“Who knew it was possible to enjoy reading about cheese as much as eating it? Remarkably entertaining, deeply insightful, and downright hilarious, American Cheese goes far beyond the plastic yellow slices we all know, and some love, revealing a community as quirky, passionate, and creative as the cheese they put into the world.”
— Jim Gaffigan, comedian/actor and New York Times bestselling author of Food: A Love Story
Joe Berkowitz loves cheese. Or at least he thought he did. After stumbling upon an artisinal tasting at an upscale cheese shop one Valentine’s Day, he realized he’d hardly even scratched the surface. These cheeses were like nothing he had ever tasted—a visceral drug-punch that reverberated deliciousness—and they were from America. He felt like he was being let in a great cosmic secret, and instantly he was in love.
This discovery inspired Joe to embark on the cheese adventure of a lifetime, spending a year exploring the subculture around cheese, from its trenches to its command centers. He dove headfirst into the world of artisan cheese; of premiere makers and mongers, cave-dwelling affineurs, dairy scientists, and restauranteurs. The journey would take him around the world, from the underground cheese caves in Paris to the mountains of Gruyere, leaving no curd unturned, all the while cultivating an appreciation for cheese and its place in society.
Joe’s journey from amateur to aficionado eventually comes to mirror the rise of American cheese on the world stage. As he embeds with Team USA at an international mongering competition and makes cheese in the experimental vats at the Dairy Research Center in Wisconsin, one of the makers he meets along the way gears up to make America’s biggest splash ever at the World Cheese Awards. Through this odyssey of cheese, an unexpected culture of passionate cheesemakers is revealed, along with the extraordinary impact of one delicious dairy product.
Joe Berkowitz is an editor and staff writer at Fast Company, covering entertainment and pop culture. He is the author of Away with Words: An Irreverent Tour Through the World of Pun Competitions and the coauthor, along with Josh Gondelman, of You Blew It. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two amazing cats.
“Who knew it was possible to enjoy reading about cheese as much as eating it? Remarkably entertaining, deeply insightful, and downright hilarious, American Cheese goes far beyond the plastic yellow slices we all know, and some love, revealing a community as quirky, passionate, and creative as the cheese they put into the world.” — Jim Gaffigan, comedian/actor and New York Times bestselling author of Food: A Love Story
“An entertaining book for cheese lovers, food enthusiasts, and those looking for a fun read. Much like a good ricotta, it is light and airy with a hint of sweetness.” — Library Journal, starred review
“A delicious read… I thought it was impossible that I could be more impressed by cheese, but this book proved me wrong. Between starting and finishing this book, I signed up for a Cheese of the Month subscription. You may say, no way is it that good! Yes, whey. I am more excited by cheese than I have ever been.” — Alexandra Petri, author of Nothing is Wrong and Here is Why
“Smart and funny…Joe Berkowitz makes a brilliant guide to the strange corners of the cheese world you’d never otherwise know about.” — Dana Schwartz, author of The White Man’s Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon
“Ripe with fresh perspectives, this well-molded collection is a delight.” — Publishers Weekly
“Berkowitz writes with unbridled glee…The result is a thorough, fascinating and hunger-inducing (but never cheesy) examination of the culture of cheesemaking.” — BookPage