The name of this blog is stolen from G. K. Chesterton. If Chesterton was a cheese lover – and how could he not have been – he was expressing a frustration that I share. For centuries “the poets” have lavished attention on wine, and its role as the liquid muse of love, wisdom, friendship and creative expression. The same with bread. But that other enduring staple, cheese, suffers from a serious deficit of literary attention (feel free to correct me here). I suppose there is The Odyssey. But for Homer, cheese was simply a stand in for temptation. This is made painfully clear as Odysseus’ homesick starving crew have their brains smashed in as they try to deprive the cyclops of his cheese.
I’m an academic – a cultural geographer by training – and, for more reasons than you want to read in this inaugural post, I’ve taken up the study of cheese. I’m sure the various reasons that cheese fascinates me will gradually emerge on this blog. But Chesterton’s insight on cheese hit home with me because when I first started digging into cheese as an area of study, it became clear that “the academics” have also been mysteriously silent – save those dairy/food science types. The really important things about cheese – why it matters to people; what it means to them; how they define place in relation to cheese; why some people drop a bundle on it from week to week (and why others don’t); what happens to the meaning of cheese as it travels through time and space… (the list goes on)… in other words, the cultural dimensions of cheese — virtual silence. Not true of wine, not true of bread – go check any Anthropology journal. So why the lack of attention to cheese? Curious, no?
All this to say that this blog is starting out as a way to sort out the cultural significance of cheese. So feel free to add posts on anything to do with cheese. What cheeses do you love? Why? How did you come to love them? What pleasant and sorrowful memories do you associate with cheese? The list goes on…it’s an open field. And if we all learn more about cheese and why it matters in the process, so much the better.
One more thing…I live in Toronto, so my posts might be a bit Toronto-centric. For that I’ll apologize in advance. But I do get out in the world from time to time so I’ll try to report in with stories from the field.