I Got Culture
The first magazine devoted entirely to cheese. Well, maybe it's not the first ever, but it's the first I've ever seen. "Culture" is glossy, well designed, staffed with some great writers, and strikes what I think is a wonderful balance between educating its readers and feeding the obsession of cheese enthusiasts. It is also a sign of the times.
I started noticing the increased interest in cheese in the culture when I noticed it was being taken much more seriously in restaurants, in high end grocery stores and in specialty shops about 7 or 8 years ago. But I didn't really understand the American cheese culture blooming until I started investigating the new American dairies and cheesemakers that were popping up across the country and producing phenomenal products. The fact of the matter is this: were I so inclined, I could only eat cheeses from the Americas from the rest of my life and never miss the imports that I grew up with.
I understand cheese because it is identical as a product to wine. It's natural and takes its cues from the place where it is produced. Cheesemakers, like winemakers, are craftsman that border on artists, shaping their product into something they've first imagined in their mind. The varieties and types are many. The product can be judged on its own, can be incorporated into other productions and can be paired with other food items to enhance an experience. Cheese changes as it ages. Like wine, some you want to age, others you don't. Cheese also has a heritage that was most fully developed and taken as a point of pride in the old world.
The point I'm making is that those folks who work in the sales and marketing of wine can look to cheese as a potential career.
"Culture" magazine seems to me to be a confirmation of everything I've written above. And it will not be the last cheese magazine that emerges in this country. For now however, it is a jewel of a find. It is currently published quarterly, another indication of where the American cheese movement is right now. Among the writers are Tara Thomas, an editor at Wine & Spirits Magazine and Janet Fletcher, the cheese columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (is any other daily or weekly newspaper in America publishing a cheese columnist?)
"Culture" will look very familiar to wine geeks who have looked over their share of wine magazines. It highlights cheese tools, profiles cheesemaker and cheesemongers, explores varieties of cheese, makes note of where cheeses can be purchased across the country, profiles chefs who work with cheese, and you'll find ads from cheesemakers, cheesemongers, cheese clubs and marketers of cheese-related tools.
What does not appear in this premier issue of "Culture" is rate or rank cheeses. I wonder if the editors and publishers discussed the idea.
The website for "Culture" is www.culturecheesemag.com . It's $40 a year for a 4 issue subscription and yes that's expensive. But, if you are concerned with keeping the magazine in business or concerned with me being able to salivate and daydream on a quarterly basis, I encourage you to support "Culture".