Recreate the cheese wheel: from the farmhouse to the factory.
In my father’s love for New York’s sharp cheddar cheese, and my brother sent from California once a year, between the cottage cheese gift in my holiday, the image of the cheese is quite important. This year Bronwen and Francis Percival’s new book, “reinventing the wheel: milk, microbes and real cheese wars”, makes it not just a pleasure, but a reflection.
Bronwen Percival is the buyer of Neal’s Yard Dairy, a leading exporter of artisanal cheese in London. Her husband, Francis Percival, is a food and wine writer. Together they explored the history of the Anglo-American cheese trade. The story goes from the farmhouse to the factory, back to the past, the development of science and the transformation of society created curves.
The rise of the cheddar war was seen in the 19th century. In New York and New England, farmers gathered in a new cheese factory, mixing cheddar cheese with the British market. Factory cheddar can be quickly produced, preserved and aged for a long time, making it easier to travel across the Atlantic than most exquisite styles.
In order to maintain the competitiveness of the British farmer cheddar cheese, a man named FJ Lloyd’s scientists in Britain take the lead in charge of standardization cheese making skills – preferred acid development measurable indicators such as science, art priority old-fashioned instinct. His method eventually helped to make the cottage cheese into a white lab coat.
But, Percivals wrote, standardization and codification led to the end of individual cheeses produced by isolated farmhouses. The rise of pasteurization and sanitation has further limited the breed. Milk has become a blank sheet rock, and cheese makers have added a limited number of store-bought cultures, rather than fermentation under the influence of a specific farm specific microbe.
The author’s agenda celebrates craftsmanship, not kraft. Percivals ultimately believed that better, more individualistic cheese and soil – reflected the breed of animals, what they ate, their environment. They are happy to admit that the cheese is now and should be more expensive, since removing the commercial cheese could help keep many struggling small farms away.
I spoke to Percivals about their books and today’s cheese. The excerpts of our conversation are as follows, edited for the sake of conciseness.
Let’s start with an incredibly popular cheese, cheddar. How does cheddar, in particular, become an important battleground in the battle between traditional cheese making and science and factory production?
Francis Bosch street: cheddar cheese is made in a factory, and it was almost made up of the Atlantic trade rules in the middle of last month, the first of the 19th century. It is possible to make a kind of cheese in the northeastern United States for the newly industrialized British cities, where retail prices are half the size of the local cottage cheese. The second half of the 19th century is also the age of incredible intellectual entrepreneurship in British cheese. What people really are competing for the cheese (standardized a variety of different style), and you have a lot of PT Barnum figure put their own specific proprietary method referred to as “the best way to cheddar cheese”.
At the same time, the cheese was passed from the woman’s hand to the man. Is it a coincidence that so many of the main farm producers are women today? The New York times recently noted this trend.
Francis Percival: the British fief-style cheeses (cheddar, leicester, wensleydale, etc.) are always the wives of British farmers, and the cheese making process is designed to fit into your day. I think if we compare it to historical practices, today’s farmers are actually very few women.
Bronwen Percival: we see a large number of women entering the cheese making, but it seems to be a woman who is involved in the revival of cheese revival, the home of the factory.
Francis Percival: even before world war ii, cheese making was still a more professional industry than men.
Is there a golden age of cheese making?
Francis Percival: haha! Now that’s what we’re arguing about. I firmly believe that this is the era [19 after half a century. If you see they are using [instruction], with the knowledge of microbiological levels compared to what they are taught very sophisticated. On the other hand, brown Wen Jianglie don’t agree with my opinion.
Bronwen Percival: yes. Like most things, I would say. I think by the 1890s, the cheese industry was starting to suffer. This is the beginning of the era of normalisation, which is actually the premonition of the incredible bottleneck that we see today – the beginning of what I think is the mass extinction of cheese. So if we fall back in the last hundred years, well, maybe not at the extreme level…
Francis Percival: there is a lot of evil pollution!
Bronwen Percival: absolutely. There will be lots and lots of cheese, not very good, but there it is real, pure diversity. Every cheese made is a farm product, a product of the farm’s original microbial ecosystem.
Francis Percival: I think what you see here is that Bronwen is a unicorn hunter, and I care more about the quality and interest of a time cheese.
Factory production clearly has an advantage in economies of scale. So what kind of infrastructure do farmers have to stay competitive?
Bronwen Percival: if you look at places like France, there is an incredible teaching infrastructure, education schools, consultants and scientists have been hard for the problem of cottage cheese makers. If you see more of the United Kingdom and the United States Anglo – Saxon world, the cottage cheese industry is very small, we don’t have benefit has the same type of technology infrastructure.
Francis Percival :(in the United States) the countries that have the best developed cottage cheese industry and community are the countries that invest a lot of resources to nurture and education.
Bronwen Percival: look at places like vermont, where there are lots of small farmers, government investments. A number of researchers at the university of vermont are studying the needs of small cheese makers, and the result is that the number and variety and quality of cheese made in vermont is incredible.
Has science changed the acceptable sanitary conditions of cheese making?
Bronwen Percival: one of the things I like about science is that it doesn’t change at all. Science is just a way of figuring out how things work. And what I’m trying to say is, based on some very interesting scientific research, the regulatory structure for managing cheese production is sure to come up. Some seemingly unhygienic methods are actually working with microbes in an incredibly complex and safe way, making way for truly interesting tastes.
Francis Percival: I think it’s important to have a dialogue based on scientific evidence. Neither side of the debate is superstitious, whether “oh, raw milk is magical” or on the other side…
Bronwen Percival: “making cheese with an unsterilized surface will make people sick.” These are based on values, not solid facts.
Francis, a book about the cheese of lactose intolerance, co-author of the he lived in one of the best cheese shop around, and for the other still want to enjoy good cheese patients have any Suggestions?
Francis Percival: a glass of fresh milk filled me with fear, but fermented dairy products are better. … Hard, aged cheese [can actually] do not contain lactose. A Parmigiano-Reggiano has no lactose in it. The biggest challenge for me was ice cream – a delicious milk product, but unfortunately it worked. And cheese is something I can embrace, and much happier.