The discovery of cheese is a narrative at least 8,000 years old, dating back to the Neolithic era. Yet, after all of these thousands of years we are still finding new ways to combine the same four basic ingredients – milk, bacteria, salt, and enzymes – into new and exciting products with vastly different shapes, sizes, and colors, and equally complex and varied tastes, textures, and, yes, aromas.
The Oxford Companion to Cheese from Oxford University Press is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese, containing 855 A-Z entries on cheese history, culture, science, and production. From cottage cheese to Camembert, from Gorgonzola to Gruyère, there are entries on all of the major cheese varieties globally, but also many cheeses that are not well known outside of their region of production. The concentrated whey cheeses popular in Norway, brunost, are covered here, as are the traditional Turkish and Iranian cheeses that are ripened in casings prepared from sheep’s or goat’s skin. There are entries on animal species whose milk is commonly (cow, goat, sheep) and not so commonly (think yak, camel, and reindeer) used in cheesemaking, as well as entries on a few highly important breeds within each species, such as the Nubian goat or the Holstein cow. Regional entries on places with a strong history of cheese production, biographies of influential cheesemakers, innovative and influential cheese shops, and historical entries on topics like manorial cheesemaking and cheese in children’s literature round out the Companion’s eclectic cultural coverage.