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WRITING A CHEESEMAKING BOOK; and Danish Cheesemaking

Posted 4/18/2015 11:09am by Merryl Winstein.

Hi Everyone,

I have been busy working on finishing my book on Cheesemaking. It's been a long 4 or 5 years working on it and the end is in sight. What a relief! Completing a book takes a lot longer than anyone would ever think.

Life also delays a book project. We have hosted 3 exchange students at our house (from Denmark, Rome, and Norway), seen our kids through a few graduations plus boyfriend and girlfriend upheavals, my mom's alzheimers taking a nosedive, emptying out her house, and also emptying out my house in preparation for finding a better location for teaching my Cheesemaking Classes. And that could be anywhere.

When I can come up for air, I again hit the computer and plug away a few more pages.

This summer when I return to Denmark again, my ability to communicate in Danish will be about 4000% better. That is, going from nearly nothing, it takes little improvement to be thousands of times better. I have at least memorized a large number of the verbs this year. So I can say a lot of sentences, as long as they aren't much longer than 2 or 3 words. Hopefully my enthusiasm will take the place of my boring conversational level.

Cheesemaking in Denmark is interesting. Danbo and other smeared rind cheeses such as traditional Havarti are king,. Smeared rind cheeses have a rich, unique flavor entirely absent from the kinds of cheeses we can buy in St. Louis, MO. The Havarti in our supermarkets is not smeared at all, but is completely plain, like butter, so it bears no resemblance to the firm, deeply flavored Havarti from its native land.

It's no wonder that I remembered tasting these kinds of cheese when I was a teenager. I'm still amazed to think of what my penpal told me this summer: "Did you know, Merryl, that my dad, being in the cheesemaking and creamery business all his life, would only allow us to serve the best cheeses at home, and he and my mom drove long distances to get them?" 

No wonder they made such a big impact on me. Those were the best of the artisan-type cheeses of the early 1970's, just before most of the Danish cheesemaking became consolidated and industrialized.

I feel lucky to have tasted those cheeses back then. The man who taught me last summer was very very pleased when I swore that some of the Danish artisan cheese, which is still made, was just the same, just as delectable, as what was made back then.