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Browse Our Spring 2010 New Releases & Bestsellers Catalog

Browse Our Spring 2010 New Releases & Bestsellers Catalog


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Categories:Types, Brochures
Published by: Chelsea Green Publishing on Dec 22, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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A Life on the Wedge

Gordon Edgar

Witty and irreverent, informative and provocative, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedgeis the
highly readable story of Gordon Edgar’s unlikely career as a cheesemonger at San Francisco’s
worker-owned Rainbow Grocery Cooperative. A former punk-rock political activist, Edgar
bluffed his way into his cheese job knowing almost nothing, but quickly discovered a whole
world of amazing artisan cheeses. There he developed a deep understanding and respect for the
styles, producers, animals, and techniques that go into making great cheese.

With a refreshingly unpretentious sensibility, Edgar intertwines his own life story with his
ongoing love affair with cheese, and offers readers an unflinching, highly entertaining on-the-
ground look at America’s growing cheese movement. From problem customers to animal rights,
business ethics to taste epiphanies, this book offers something for everyone, including cheese
profiles and recommendations for selecting the very best—not just the most expensive—cheeses
from the United States and around the world and a look at the struggles dairy farmers face in
their attempts to stay on and make their living from the land.

Edgar—a smart, progressive cheese man with an activist’s edge—enlightens and delights with
his view of the world from behind the cheese counter and his appreciation for the skill and tra-
dition that go into a good wedge of Morbier.

Cheesemongeris the first book of its kind—a cheese memoir with attitude and information that
will appeal to everyone from serious foodies to urban food activists.

A politically charged walk through the world
of artisan cheese.

“Smart, compassionate, and fun to read, Cheesemongertook me by surprise!
Who would expect the memoir of a cheese man to be so fascinating, playful,
and refreshing? It’s great to hear a voice on food from the punk route, and
Gordon Edgar brings a fresh and important perspective that we could all use
for hand-made foods . . . and the people who buy them.”
Deborah Madison, author of Local Flavors: Cooking and Eating from
America’s Farmers’Marketsand What We Eat When We Eat Alone

Chelsea Green

March 2010

Food • Memoir

“If you think culture applies only to transforming milk into cheese, then read
this book! Gordon Edgar takes you on an irreverent journey through history,
punk music, lust, food politics, and daily challenges faced by small-scale
farmers and co-op retailers. He simultaneously demystifies cheese while
wrestling with the myths and contradictions of the global food system. He will
make you laugh, cry, and debate him!”
Jeffrey Roberts, author of The Atlas of American Artisan Cheese

Gordon Edgar is the cheesemonger for
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, San
Francisco’s biggest independent gro-
cery and the country’s largest retail
worker co-op. He has been a panelist
and judge at numerous industry cheese
events, helps organize national and
regional worker–co-op conferences and
regional cheese conferences, and
serves on the board for the California
Artisan Cheese Guild. He has written
for HipMama.com, Clamor Magazine,
and MaximumRocknRoll and blogs at
gordonzola.livejournal.com and

•Pub Date March 2010
•$17.95 US, $21.95 CAN • Paper
•ISBN 9781603582377
•6 x 9 • 256 pages
•World English Rights

•Also Available as an e-book




Chelsea Green

March 2010

Food • Memoir

From the book . . .

The moment in which I learned the most took place in the walk-in coolerwhere I was
doing my volunteer work.Most of my day was spent organizing cheese for the cheese competition. I was
teamed with another cheese punk, the only other person I know with a cheese tattoo. Fate brought us together.
Or at least the promise of cheaper out-of-pocket expenses.

He’d been a cheese buyer longer than I had and referred to himself as a “cheesemonger.” “Tommy, how do you
define ‘cheesemonger’?” I asked.

During the course of the day we hashed out the definition and connotations. Obviously, cheesemonger was
a title that meant “one who buys and sells cheese.” We both liked the history associated with the
word “monger.” Fishmonger, warmonger, whoremonger, etc. Clearly it was a serious
title, and one to be earned.

Cheese lovers sometimes get confused and call themselves cheesemongers. I try to be understanding. After
all, who wants to be called a “turophile?” It sounds like you have a fetish for molesting out-of-town visitors.

Unfortunately, sometimes I’ve heard cheese workers use the title “cheesemonger” after they’ve been at the
job for about five minutes.In doing so, they ignite in me a visceral distrust. Policing this definition cuts both
ways, and I’m sure some folks would question how appropriate it was that I applied the term to myself. And
while my new cheesepunk friend and I talked about the definition and what years of experience, gross sales, and
ratio of factory-to-artisan cheese should be required, he had a few additional rules.

“You can’t call yourself a cheesemonger unless you’ve killed
a rat in the walk-in cooler, kicked a sales rep out of your
store, and bled from a cheese wound,”Tommy declared.

We argued about the rat qualification both on humane grounds and based
on the fact that his urban store might have been in the food business for
100 years, but mine had just been a St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store and
Mack Truck showroom before recently becoming a grocery store. I had had
no opportunity for that kind of vermin killing. That I had killed many
defenseless animals in my hunting-oriented youth convinced Tommy to give
me a pass on that qualification. My dad was right: Those freezing pre-dawn
mornings spent up to my waist in ice-cold water putting out duck decoys
really did pay off.

I never saw Tommy again, but his words have guided me
ever since.




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