There are magazines devoted to beer and wine, periodicals about baking and vegetable gardening, how-to monthlies on keeping backyard chickens and raising beef cattle. Stephanie Skinner decided to do a magazine on cheese and cheesemaking.
She was having dinner with friends a few years back when the idea occurred to her. “Stephanie started pounding her fist on the table and saying, ‘I don’t understand why there’s no cheese magazine,’ ’’ recalls Elaine Khosrova, editor in chief of Culture, the cheese-centric magazine that Skinner published to fill the void.
Culture is based in Great Barrington, its subtitle is “The Word on Cheese,’’ and it is the kind of literate publication where words matter - a sort of New Yorker on the subject of cultured milk. The current issue of the glossy quarterly (a one-year subscription is $30) includes a feature on a California sheep rancher whose cheeses reflect her Basque roots, another on a gentleman who lives on a remote Tasmanian island and is known as “the cheese whisperer,’’ and a photo essay on antique cheese graters. Each issue has a cheese-themed crossword puzzle, cheese poems, even cheese jokes.
If it sounds like Culture is for the cheese-obsessed, that’s not too far off the mark. But as Khosrova notes, cheese is having a moment in America. Although the magazine launched just as the economy was tanking - the first issue came out in December 2008 - Khosrova says that “the time was right, with cheese shops opening, cheese shelves in markets expanding, cheese books coming out. There were so many great indications that there was a ready audience.’’
Khosrova sees it as part of the evolution of American tastes. “American palates are getting more and more sophisticated,’’ she says. She also ties it to the movement toward a new ethos about food. “To make beautiful cheese is really an accomplishment,’’ she says. “It’s skilled, romantic, hard work, and that’s why there’s so much interest among young people.’’
Though her job description elicits “smiles and giggles’’ at cocktail parties, Khosrova has become one of the cheese-obsessed since taking it on. “I’m not just an editor,’’ she says. “I’m a missionary for cheese.’’
Culture magazine is available at some Roche Bros., Wegmans, and Whole Foods Market locations, or go to www.culturecheesemag.com.
Jane Dornbusch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.