Thirsty Reader Book Review: “The Telling Room” by Michael Paterniti

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“The Telling Room” is not an easy book to categorize: Is it a post-modern travelogue, a footnote of food history, or a treatise on the virtues of the Old World? At any given moment, “The Telling Room” might be any one of these things, but above all else,  author Michael Paterniti’s book remains a culinary cautionary tale.

Billed as “A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese,” “The Telling Room” profiles the everyday agrarian life of former Spanish cheese maker Ambrosio Molinos, whose passion and taste for simpler times proves both inspiring and woefully short-sighted.

The consummate Castilian, Ambrosio is the creator of Páramo de Guzmán, an artisanal sheep’s milk cheese that embodied the very pinnacle of culinary craftsmanship throughout the late 80s and early 90s (earning several prestigious international awards along the way), but which has since become somebody else’s mass-produced, middle-of-the-road, gourmet commodity.

As Paterniti immerses himself into the mysterious back story of this modern-day food fable, he elicits the anachronistic charm of rural Castile, a dwindling bastion of gastronomic living. By the time that Ambrosio’s full mythology unfolds, however, Paterniti gleans a profound and poignant life lesson of his own.

Want to win a free hard-cover copy of “The Telling Room”? Just “like” the Accidental Wino Facebook Page to become eligible for my drawing at the end of the month. One reader will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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