In this blog series intern Kate E. interviews the staff here at culture: the word on cheese to give you an inside look at a day in the life of this goofy group of cheese-lovers and their work on the magazine you've come to love. Have specific questions for or about our staff? Be sure to send them to staff@culturecheesemag with the subject line, "Meet the Staff".
With this post, we are being proactive. Please meet Katie Aberbach, culture’s new editor elect. She will be joining our team in a few weeks, and we decided interrogating her was the best way to welcome her into the fold.
I'm full steam ahead planning and editing great content for culture 2012, but before I do that, I often look back at what we've already done in past issues. Doing this recently, I was reminded that one of the best parts of my job is interviewing luminaries in our cheese world to capture, in their own words, reflections on success and failure, and the ever-changing cheese world, for our Voicings feature in every issue of culture. In case you missed them, here's some of my favorite comments from the cheese intelligentsia:
“Dairy used to be an industry that was run by Washington and big companies. It is now run by the consumer. [The issue of] rBGH is a good example; consumers said ‘I want rBGH-free milk’ and it happened. Washington didn’t know what hit them.”
-Dan Carter, cheese marketer and ACS Lifetime Achievement Award winner (Spring 2010 issue of culture)
I’ve just been informed by my daughter that I’m a lousy nachos maker. “Your chips are too soggy, mom,” she said last night, after I served a platter of this mounded corn chip-melted-cheese-salsa-bean concoction to her and some friends who were occupying our dining room for their common cause—homework.
I was wounded. Can it be that I—a former pastry chef and 25-year veteran food writer, recipe developer, and consummate dinner party giver—can’t make a decent plate of nachos?! This is amateur food, after all! Any teenager with a microwave can throw this %^@ Superbowl stuff together.
I felt like Miss Muffet—she of the classic cheesy nursery rhyme—the other day. While picnicking in the woods with some of my favorite curds (albeit no whey), a very big spider appeared and made its way straight for the cheese. It was an unappetizing move, but a curious one too. Do spiders really like cheese, I wondered? After all, aren’t cheese mites related to spiders? This six-legged visitor stayed quite some time on my slice but I couldn’t tell if he/she was actually eating it. For those who might be wondering the exact same thing (I know there are some of you out there), here’s what I’ve found out about spider sustenance:
Spiders eat live prey only. (Maybe cheese is considered live? After all it “ages.”)
Between my appetite and my occupation, I often have a lot of cheeses in my refrigerator. So much so, that I can lose track of them. A piece of cheese can easily go astray in those 28-cubic feet, slipping past the cartons, bottles, jars, and leftovers. That’s apparently what happened to a half wheel of Canadian camembert some time ago. I have no idea how many weeks passed since I had stored the cut cheese. But when I rediscovered it in the food ghetto at the back of my frig, the wayward curd was loosely dressed in a wrinkled piece of cheese paper.
Peeling back the covering, I expected to find a sad little corpse of a cheese. But actually it didn’t look too bad. A bit aged, of course, its youthful dewiness all gone, it’s shape deflated. But the rind was still white and flocked like camembert and inside the cheese was the color of Irish butter yet dense like fudge. (See the photo.)
Hola from Spain! I landed this morning in Barcelona and was then taxied to the town of Vic, an hour northwest of Barcelona for Lactium 2011—a gathering of Spanish cheesemakers and street cheese fare. As one of the fortunate invitees of this event, I get be to part of the “Super Jury,” a group of 34 international judges who will name The Best Catalan Cheese on Saturday. The festival begins tomorrow, May 6, when market stalls on the wide boulevard, Rambla del Carme fill up with cheesemakers and the contest ensues. Eyewitness reports on that to come. . .
At 8:30 this morning I took my seat in a classroom at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese (on the campus of UVM in Burlington), to start the first of a four-day- cheesemaking intensive course. This education for me is long overdue. As the editor of culture magazine, I’ve learned a lot on the job about what makes one wheel different from another, but there are big gaps in my cheese intelligence. What really happens (on a microbial level) when milk, starter, coagulant and a cheesemaker come together in a creamery? It was time I knew.