Review – Reinventing the Wheel

Posted July 9, 2021 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Reinventing the Wheel by Francis and Bronwen PercivalReinventing the Wheel, Bronwen and Francis Percival

I thought this would be a great companion to The Cheesemonger’s [safdf], though probably more academic and less rich in anecdote. It was probably equally as rich in anecdote, and though the authors’ passion is clear, it somehow didn’t come through nearly as well because other parts of the book felt so dry. It also doesn’t help that they’re very judgemental about what constitutes real cheese, how cheese should be made, how cheese should taste, and yes, also how you should buy and enjoy cheese.

I’m sure the experience they describe as being the only way to eat “proper” “real” cheese is very enjoyable, if expensive and time-consuming; it’s the way they present it as the only way, and as a moral choice, that somewhat bugs me, because it blames consumers and producers for problems introduced by a capitalist system in which profit is more important than most anything else. I’m not sure that if everyone did try to live the way they say cheese should be made, bought and eaten whether that would actually work.

Possibly they’re right, but being judged for enjoying Mexicana Cheese or Applewood or whatever I bought from the supermarket just gets a little wearing.

In any case, it’s a good overview of how pasteurisation and anti-microbial measures have nearly killed the old ways of making cheese, and how that can in many ways be a bad thing. They discuss the fact that the balanced microbial communities in milk that hasn’t been pasteurised — at least in the past — tended to keep each other in balance and avoid some of the spoilage problems that modern cheese is prey to.

Their passion is clear, like I said, but it didn’t make me want to go and eat cheese like Palmer’s book did.

Rating: 3/5

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