Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (324 customer reviews)
Best Sellers Rank: #251,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) #68 in Books > Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > Spanish #416 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Culinary #1576 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Travelers & Explorers
A couple of chapters into this book, I was asking myself, "How have I never heard of this writer before?" And before even finishing the book, I was ordering is previous work (Driving Mr. Albert) simply because I didn't want this book to end. This is a masterpiece, on a level with Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air or Richard Preston's The Hot Zone, in which it doesn't matter that you had no previous interest in Mount Everest or biological warfare, or in this case, Spanish cheese.Paterniti takes a more or less simple story of a farmer in Spain who creates a fantastic cheese and then, through mismanagement, loses the company he has built, and turns it into a reflection on how life is to be lived, how it feels to be a young father, what is worth living for, how time changes, and yet doesn't change, everything. He has a huge man-crush on this guy whose language he doesn't even speak at first, and he manages to spend so much time with him that he falls completely under his spell, bringing his wife and kids not once but twice, to spend weeks in a dessicated village in Spain.Life in the village of Guzman is everything that life in modern America is not. People spend their time in rooms that Paterniti calls Telling Rooms, caves, actually out on the hillside, where wine flows freely (wine they themselves have made) and food is shared lovingly with friend and stranger alike. No "stranger danger" here, no hours spent before screens "chatting" electronically with disembodied strangers. This is life as it has been for centuries. And yet, it is also real, not a stage-setting put on for the benefit of lost americanos who always go home to their clothes driers and air conditioners and ipads.
The first 40 pages of this book did me in. I almost just tossed it. But it finally started picking up and getting to the actual story.There are two things I don't like about this book. The first is, the author uses way too many adjectives and similes, etc., for my taste. The unusual part though, is that sometimes he uses them, and other times he doesn't have any at all. (Once he gets into the actual story, there aren't nearly as many.)The second is, he has far too much information that doesn't apply to the story. He includes things about his personal life and family, and lots of other side items that aren't pertinent to the story. I WILL say though that many of the things he does puts in footnotes, so it's easy to skip over them. Some of them are actually good stories and worth the read. But I really think this book could have been shorter and more on point, and I would have enjoyed it more (I would have given it a 5 then.)Now for the story. The story was WONDERFUL. It pulled me right in (when he got to it) and kept me going. Ambrosio was larger than life, and the small Castilian town he lived in sounded like a really nice, old-world place. The story of the cheese was just spectacular. The author was really drawn into this, and I can understand why.Ambrosio was definitely bigger than life (I picture him as looking just like Eli Wallach) and he didn't do anything by halves. I want to say more about him, but I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't read it yet.This book is definitely worth a read, and seems very heartfelt by both the author and the participants in the story.[For those who have already read the book---I LOVED the author's story of his special trip to Mon Virgo.
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