Lessons Of A Cheesemaker
Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine|March 2020
Lessons Of A Cheesemaker
If you’d asked my younger self what I wanted to be when I grew up, “cheesemaker” would not have registered as a contender, let alone an identifiable option.
Joy Martin Omar

A child of the ‘80s, I come from a middle-class home where Parmesan was an immortal green can of savory sprinkles for my spaghetti. Our meals were always homemade, rarely fancy and certainly never expensive. This ethos made me an anomaly in my foodie hometown of Ann Arbor, where I didn’t step foot in Zingerman’s Delicatessen until I applied for a job in my mid-20s. Zingerman’s sold food that was fancy and expensive. As it turned out, Zingerman’s would change my life.

My cheese education began in the deli’s retail department, a cheerful but cramped labyrinth of profound sensory overload. The heady perfume of charcuterie garlands collided with the bracing, spore-saturated air of the cheese case, an olfactory assault softened by the warm waft of freshly baked bread. I became enamored with flavor; the peppery bite of new harvest olive oil, the crystalline umami of well-aged Parmigiano Reggiano, the floral fingerprint of a single-source honey. I also fell in love with Dave, the man who would become my husband.

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March 2020