CHEESE AND CULTURE
A History of Cheese and
Its Place in Western Civilization
By Paul S. Kindstedt
Chelsea Green. 253 pp. $24.95
The long arc of human history has produced astonishing developments in technology, medicine, culture and many other facets of life. Focusing on one such element and tracing its progression through the centuries can be a risky proposition, and it helps if you have a subject that matters in everyday life. Let’s say cheese.
Paul S. Kindstedt’s new book focuses on that food, which has been with us for eons. Cheese was firmly entrenched in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt; the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage would, among other effects, “influence cheesemaking for centuries to come”; cheesemaking was one of many factors causing colonists in New England to rely heavily on slave labor. Kindstedt points out that cheese made in Rhode Island was sent to the West Indies in exchange for molasses, which was used to make rum in New England, and the rum, in turn, was used to purchase slaves.