Cheese. To the Editor of The New Statesman and Nation
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290 ] Cheese To the Editor of The New Statesman and Nation The New Statesman and Nation, NS 10 (21 Dec 1935) 977 Sir, – Mr. David Garnett (reviewing Mr. Osbert Burdett’s book) is in error in supposing that there is no tolerable American cheese.1 There is a delicious cheese of Port Salut type made by Trappist monks in Ontario.2 But Trappist monks, like their cheese, are the product of “a settled civilisation of long standing,” and I fear there is little demand for either.3 Americans seem to prefer a negative cream cheese which they can eat with salad: and American salads are barbaric. I wish Mr. Garnett would take the initiative in founding such a society as he suggests;4 and I for one would be glad to buy a Double Cottenham, if he could put me in the way of it.5  T. S. Eliot Oxford and Cambridge University Club, Pall Mall, S.W.I. Notes 1. David Garnett stated that there is “no tolerable American cheese” in “Cheese,” his review of A Little Book of Cheese (1935) by Osbert Burdett (1885-1936) in the issue of 7 Dec (902, 904). 2. Port Salut cheese is semisoft cheese made from cow’s milk, first produced in nineteenthcenturyFrancebyTrappistmonks .TheCanadianversion,Okacheese,wasoriginallymanufactured at a Trappist monastery in the village of Oka in Quebec, not in Ontario as TSE states. TSE later wrote to Stephen Spender on 15 Feb 1940: “The one thing I question is the advisability of letting the public know that we ate Port Salut, unless you go into the matter more fully and tell why. It is a good, reliable, transportable second-rate cheese, but there are only two reasons for eating it: (1) that one is feeling rather low spirited (2) that there is nothing better.” 3. Garnett writes: “There is no tolerable American cheese either, and for the same reason; a settled civilisation of long standing is needed for making cheese” (902). 4. Garnett comments: “his book will have performed a very great service if it stirs up honest lovers of English cheese like Mr. Eliot and Sir John Squire to form a Society, not so much for ‘the protection of Ancient Cheeses,’ as Mr. Eliot suggests, as for co-operation in obtaining the best cheeses for its members, and for spreading a knowledge of rare cheeses amongst them” (902, 904). Garnett refers to TSE’s letter to the Times of 29 Nov, in which he calls for “the formation of a Society for the Preservation of Ancient Cheeses” (5.286). 5. Garnett writes: “the best of all English cheese, Double Cottenham, is so local that Mr. Burdett has never heard of it, otherwise it would take pride of place between Wensleydale and Stilton in his book” (902). ...


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