Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cheese, please

Ever since we decided to move back home, our friends and colleagues have responded with understanding murmurings about the importance of family, the value in having given it a shot, the cost of real estate. People have been kind and we appreciate it. We've made friends out here who we'll miss terribly. And I think it's a safe bet that about half of them think we're nuts. To be able to live out here and do work that you enjoy...and to choose to leave it? In exchange for Boston winters? Why would any sane person do that?

As I've been saying a lot lately, family trumps food. And even weather. But the food thing does pain me. I've grown accustomed to year-round farmers markets, strawberries in March, tomatoes in October, persimmons in November, green grass in January. I'm remembering one very sorry excuse for a persimmon that I saw in a fancy Boston produce market last December. I fear the ennui (and bloat) of being separated from all these remarkable farm-fresh fruits and vegetables.

But, on an optimistic note, I just thumbed through some press materials for Jeff Roberts's Atlas of American Artisan Cheese (June 2007: Chelsea Green Press. $35), and it gives me hope. In his definitive list of all the artisan cheesemakers in the West, Roberts lists 86. That includes all the producers in California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. Meanwhile, in little bitty New England (that's Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to you westerners), there are 84! If you add New York state, that brings the total to 119.

This does nothing for my waistline. But it does wonders for my spirits.

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