Ned Palmer

The Cheesemongers History of the British Isles

For history nerds and food lovers, the curious and the hungry – an entertaining, evolving journey stretching right across the British Isles, packed with strange surprises and mouth-watering inspirations from an expert story-teller and master monger.

Sleightlet, a very simple goat’s cheese made with just a couple of bowls, a cloth and a spoon, is what people would have made around the time Stonehenge was built.

In 1618 a Welsh Justice of the Peace used cheese to identify the guilty party. If the defendant could not swallow the piece of ‘enchanted’ cheese, they were guilty.

Every cheese tells a story. Whether it’s a fresh young goat’s cheese or a big, beefy eighteen-month-old Cheddar, each variety holds the history of the people who first made it, from the builders of Stonehenge to medieval monks, from the Stilton-makers of the eighteenth-century to the factory cheesemakers of the Second World War.

Cheesemonger Ned Palmer takes us on a delicious journey across Britain and Ireland and through time to uncover the histories of beloved old favourites like Cheddar and Wensleydale and fresh innovations like the Irish Cashel Blue or the rambunctious Renegade Monk. Along the way we learn the craft and culture of cheesemaking from the eccentric and engaging characters who have revived and reinvented farmhouse and artisan traditions. And we get to know the major cheese styles – the blues, washed rinds, semi-softs and, unique to the British Isles, the territorials – and discover how best to enjoy them, on a cheeseboard with a glass of Riesling, or as a Welsh rarebit alongside a pint of Pale Ale.

This is a cheesemonger’s odyssey, a celebration of history, innovation and taste – and the book all cheese and history lovers will want to devour this Christmas.

Ned Palmer is a philosopher, jazz musician and cheese historian. He spent seven years at Neal’s Yard Dairy before setting up the Cheese Tasting Company. He now works with Laithwaite’s, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the British Epicurean Society and various London craft brewers to bring audiences delicious surprises and pairings, alongside eccentric, eclectic and esoteric stories of the makers of great British cheese, both ancient and modern.

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