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Monday, March 1, 2010

Memoir by Rainbow Cheesemonger Smashes Foodie Stereotypes

Posted By on Mon, Mar 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

click to enlarge A little bit foodie, and a little bit rock 'n' roll. - CHELSEA GREEN
  • Chelsea Green
  • A little bit foodie, and a little bit rock 'n' roll.
Is it possible to turn gastronome without surrendering your punk soul? That question bleeds through the text of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge by Rainbow cheese buyer Gordon Edgar. The 200-page memoir ( $17.95, Chelsea Green) traces Edgar's transformation from '80s punk misfit to foodie of sorts, a guy who's developed a love of Gruyère and chèvres while keeping his socially and politically progressive edge, the way the smell of Vacherin clings to your fingers.

It's a book that delivers the kind of rigorously inside information that so often reads as pedantry. But Edgar wears his carefully cultivated "cheesemonger" label with obvious pride: Not merely a cheese expert or lover, he never forgets he's a clerk in a grocery store, albeit a cooperative with an only-in-San-Francisco core of chip-on-its-shoulder social conscience.

Part of the fun of Cheesemonger are its Rainbow vignettes: Hostile vegans, the oddball turning aggro after Edgar calls him "sir," shoppers who turn menacing on either side of the raw-milk divide. Edgar appears the hapless merchant with a likeable face, the guy who's decided it's worth coping with the crazies so long as he can continue a life surrounded by bandage-wrapped cheddar, and cheese made from the milk of Nigerian dwarf goats on a solar-powered farm in Oregon.

As a writer, Edgar has an easy style that helps sell his punk-turned-working-stiff persona. A blogger at, Edgar shared his end-of-year cheese picks with SFoodie last December. Hear him read excerpts from Cheesemonger on Sat., March 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Mission bar Amnesia (853 Valencia at 20th St.), an event advertised like this: "Free local artisinal [sic] cheese!!! Loud music, beer and wine!"

Steep yourself in Cheesemonger, and nothing about that promise will seem remotely incongruous.

[Cheesemonger is available from Rainbow, Omnivore Books, and other retailers.]

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