Illustration from "History of Cheesemaking in England" (1922)
Cheesemonger, Fromager, Cheese buyer, Cheese steward...who are we exactly? We bring the cheese from the farm to the city. We buy from the cheesemaker and sell to you. We manage the ravages of shipping and time on the cheeses. We move the cheese!
This country is in the midst of a cheese revolution, where in the past few years the interest in farmstead and artisan cheeses has expanded and the whole industry has grown enormously. Small farms making new cheeses using traditional, handmade methods have multiplied. New dairies have caught the attention of local consumers and restaurants; cheesemakers sell their cheeses at farmers markets across the country; endless food articles are written about cheeses. Even two new cheese-focused magazines (CultureCheeseMag.com,
CheeseConnoisseur.com) hit the stands last January. Serious restaurants without a cheese course were the norm ten years ago; now
they are the exception. And in the dining room, American gourmands have studied and learned their cheeses along with their wines.
We are the ones who take care of the quality of the cheeses. We talk about them intelligently to the chefs and alluringly to the consumer. Equally essential, we provide feedback to the cheesemaker.
In Europe the craft of the fromager is slowly shrinking. Cheesemongers and affineurs (cheese maturers--keep reading) are becoming scarce, and one of the reasons is the huge loss of farmstead dairies. Low pay and new EU regulations have discouraged the growth of small farms in general, and small dairies are closing every day.