by Kobus Mulder (Sunbird, R225)

What a celebration of our cheesemaking! When my family immigrated to South Africa from Italy in the Sixties, the one thing we missed was the variety of cheeses we enjoyed in Italy.

Back then the full spectrum of South African cheeses comprised Gouda and Cheddar.

Over the years we have watched the cheese section in supermarket fridges grow from a one-metre shelf to an aisle-long section brimming with choice from the staple Gouda and Cheddar to some of the best liked French, Italian, English and Dutch varieties of a quality that can stand its ground against produce from the countries of origin.

Cheeses of South Africa gives an insight into the quiet revolution that has occurred, which has resulted in us now being spoilt for choice. The author, South Africa’s only cheese judge, looks at 22 artisanal cheesemakers spread across several provinces, some of whom have won awards at international competitions.

Kobus Mulder of Agri-Expo, a dairy industry body, keeps the narrative simple, so you don’t need to be a cheese connoisseur to enjoy the book. A chapter explains the various types of milk, as well as pasteurised milk versus raw milk in cheesemaking, types of cheese and how they are made, cheese maturing, storing and cutting cheese, creating a successful cheeseboard and pairing wine and cheese.

The book is a charming tribute to our artisanal cheesemakers with each cheesemaker attributed a chapter covering interesting details about the family involved and the all-important goats, sheep, cows and buffalo behind the wonderful cheeses now on offer.

Whether you are a cheese lover or not, this book will open your eyes to the wealth of cheeses we are blessed with. The beautiful close-up pictures of the cheeses almost have one reaching out for a bite.

We truly have come a long way in this quiet revolution.