Cheese Book Check-In
Well, you know what today is, don’t you? One week ’til D-Day. Next Sunday, I’ll be packing up my cheese writing cave and hopefully tossing back a whiskey at some swish bar to celebrate submitting The Manuscript. The Manuscript is, as of this moment, over 400 documents on my hard drive. All of those documents, labeled things like “Miscellaneous Cheese” and “Pairing Ideas,” are about to get dumped into a vortex so they can become a constellation.
I have never written a book with so many whirling parts. Even my kitchen looks like whirled parts come unglued — there is so much Brie baked onto the bottom of my oven, it looks like the moon’s surface. And there are so many oddball jars in my fridge from recipe testing that even the dog finds it baffling. Not to mention the books and notebooks strewn all over, the Post-It notes flapping by the bed, and the wudglets of half-eaten cheese sandwiches moldering around the house. No, you wouldn’t like it here.
Luckily, I do. Pretty much. I like living inside projects. Good oxygen. But it will feel very good to press “send” in one week and maybe take a bike ride or have coffee with a friend without secretly nursing a good line about Berkswell in the back of my mind. In the meantime, I am obsessively reading introductions to food books, which is the one thing about The Manuscript that terrifies me. Not the last line. But the first line. I can’t seem to get it right.
Here are a few of my favorite openings to cheese books:
“Cheese is a mysterious, passion-inspiring, mind-boggling force of nature that leaves in its wake a sensual afterglow and longings for more.”
“It is certainly a blessing and a gift to discover one’s true vocation in life.”
“I could talk about cheese until the cows come home . . . describe the nuances and aromas, textures, styles and varying shades of yellow.”
“Like a rock that will weather many storms, Parmesan presides over the cheesboard.”
And then, here’s this sad, parched little opener:
“Cheese is one of those foods that arouses strong feelings in those who make, sell, and eat it–an everyday food that people feel passionately about.”
That, incidentally, is a lovely little book, but the opening line sounds like the start to a freshman paper.
How many people read book introductions anyway? Probably just people like me. But you can see, can’t you? Once you look closely at those first lines, some really pop. And others are tar babies.
Which means one thing: I have my work cut out until Sunday.