The Guardian features a nice essay by Graham Kirkham of Mrs. Kirkham’s Lancashire Cheese, in which he discusses the roots of his cheese knowledge and passion:
The secrets of Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese
Graham Kirkham inherited his artisanal approach from the females in his family
My grandmother, Ruth Townley, made cheese all her life. When she retired, she moved to Beesley Farm and passed her equipment and knowledge on to my mother, Mrs Kirkham, and that’s how it all started. I took the reins about five years ago.
Making cheese is bloody hard work, but it isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life. Back in the day, my mum was making five or six cheeses a day on her own. Nowadays, Mrs Kirkham’s has a team of five full-timers and one part-timer, and we make about 20 10kg cheeses a day. Big dairies churn out thousands of kilos a day, so in the cheese world, we’re minute.
The quality of your cheese is dependent upon what you start off with: start with something great and you’ll end up with something great. The welfare and comfort of our herd of 125 Holstein Friesian cows is crucial. Through the winter, they are kept inside in roomy cubicle housing with slatted floors, so the ground is always clean. They also have massive spongy cow mattresses to lie on, which they love! In the summer they’re outside during the day and back inside at night, so we can monitor what they’re eating. A diet of grass silage, whole-crop (wheat or barley) silage and a compound feed of oats, wheat, barley and maize, along with some treacle, is what gives us the best milk…
Read the full story here.
(Photo ©2013 guardian.co.uk)
On the Formaggio Kitchen blog, Andrew Clark has a great post about the challenges of talking about cheese and the ways in which metaphors and language play a role in the daily lives of cheesemongers and food lovers alike. (Pictured above is Harbison, a cheese likely to inspire some creatively loving descriptors):
Not long ago, a fellow cheesemonger and I were talking about the way we describe food – specifically, in selling cheese to our customers. “Like ‘nutty,’” she said. “Nuts really have nothing to do with the production of cheese.”
Why do I think of the flavor of sesame seeds when I taste Moses Sleeper, from Jasper Hill Farm, in Vermont? Why Brazil nuts with a recent Taleggio or pistachio when tasting Caprotto? Why do we describe specific tastes, or hints of taste, with things that are most certainly uncheese-like? Because these metaphors help people understand what to expect from a cheese.
Selling cheese over the years has allowed me to work with many interesting people – people with plenty of wonderful and almost poetic taste metaphors. Here are a few of the gems I have heard:
• Lincolnshire Poacher: “pineapple upside down cake”
• Ekiola Ardi Gasna Fermier: “salted caramel”
• Bayrischer Blauschimmelkase: “sitting temperature salt & pepper ice cream”
• Försterkäse Krümmenswil: “melted leather”
• Winnimere: “hot dog”
• Beringse Gouda: “fresh, buttered South Carolina biscuits”
Perhaps metaphor is the best way we can share our very personal taste experiences with each other? This is more or less the essence of poetry, a most cherished and beautiful form of the written word, a tool we use to tell others how we experience the world.
Read the full piece here, including forays into the works of Rimbaud and Whitman: