One reason that wine, beer, bread, and cheese go together is because they all have humble beginnings that when combined with "friendly" microorganisms become some of the most complex foods known to man. Wine starts with simple grape juice, beer with various forms of malt, bread with everyday flour, and cheese with milk. When impeccably high quality milk is combined with the right bacteria and a drop or two of a powerful natural enzyme under the watchful eye of a skilled cheesemaker, a world class cheese is born.
This formula for cheese is admittedly simplistic as Steve Jenkins makes very clear throughout his book, Cheese Primer. The miracle of cheese is that from the milk of a handful of animals, mankind produces a seemingly endless variety of cheeses. Cheese Primer chronicles thousands of major cheeses. It describes where and how each cheese is made, what to look for when buying them, and what to eat and drink with each cheese.
Steve Jenkins, one of the pioneers in bringing top rate cheeses to the US and taking the time to introduce Americans to quality cheese, is passionate and openly opinionated about cheese. This book could have easily been a very dry listing of major cheese varieties, but rather is spiked with personality. The underlying current that runs throughout the 540 page book is the tireless search for great cheese and what separates the average from the cheeses with pedigree.
This book is a must for anyone who loves cheese. It is well organized for quick reference. Through the years, it has helped guide my cheese purchases for the best cheese platter money can buy. As I am now a full time culinary instructor, I recommend it to all my students!