Tag Archives: culture

Class and Cheese in America

Cheese & Class with Soleil Ho

I recently had the fortune to write with Soleil Ho, chef and culture critic, about class, conversation, and cheese over at Munchies. Cheese is a major element of the American diet, and as a result, it’s also a big part of our conversations… and one of the major roles cheese plays in day-to-day discourse is signaling our aspirations and our social status. The original vision was a touch ambitious for the article’s planned length. The upshot is that we now have all these scraps of a much larger story — or stories, because it’s rare that anything has only one tale to tell — and these scraps itch for elaboration.

Ideas we explored but couldn’t include ranged from how modernization turned cheese from a woman’s art to a man’s job; how the embrace of processed cheese by trend-setters denies class privilege while expressing status insecurity; the relationship between haute cuisine and belonging; the experience of cultural reclamation through cheese; disgust at processed or perceived inferior cheeses as a means of framing in and out-groups; international and immigrant experiences with cheese… We were able to offer some crumbs here and there, but ultimately, our narrow scope excluded many details and nuances.

And there’s so much reading out there. If, like me, you hunger to know more about food — not just how to make and eat it, but the whys of it all, I hope you’ll appreciate the following suggestions.

Heather Paxson’s The Life of Cheese and Sherrie Inness’s Secret Ingredients were two of our go-to sources for “What Cheese Can Tell Us About Class in America.”