Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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November 1, 2006

Cheese permeates culture with variety of flavors, textures

North Andover, Mass. — We are in the midst of a revolution — albeit a yummy one.

It’s a cheese revolution, and the dairy product has begun a quiet occupation of our culture, tables and markets.

The revolution started with chic restaurants offering a cheese course, with suggestions from an on-staff maitre d’ fromage. Around that time, stores started importing a wide variety of cheeses. Today, cheeses that weren’t available in the United States five years ago regularly appear on supermarket shelves.

Signs of cheese’s new primacy in a country once known for the blandness of its cheeses are everywhere.

Cara Kennedy of Haverhill, a cheese expert at Wild Oats in Andover, selected three of the 100 types of cheeses available at the market to demonstrate the vast variety. Within minutes, customers decimated the cut cheese by half. In half an hour, it was gone.

Dominic Sorrentino of Andover liked the aged Gouda so much, he bought a chunk himself.

“I’m not a connoisseur. I like food. It’s why I come here,” said Sorrentino, who liked the strong, bold taste of the cheese.

Kennedy has seen customers increasingly interested in cheese. One hunted through her hostess’ garbage at a party to find the rind of a cheese that she loved. She brought the rind into Wild Oats for Kennedy to identify, which she did.

“I see people going like this,” said Kennedy, holding a block of shrink-wrapped cheese to her nose. “They want to smell the cheese through the plastic to see if it’s good.”

Lately, stores devoted to cheese in all its incarnations have begun popping up, like Grand Trunk Old World Market in Newburyport, which offers close to 100 cheeses during the holidays. Owners Angela and Jeremy Kirkpatrick of Newburyport regularly travel the world looking for unique cheeses (and ways to eat it) to promote at their shop.

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