This is an extensive and fascinating story of cheese history. Excerpt:
“For more than 60 years Americans wandered in a nutritional desert. Worshipping the false idol of convenience, they believed that Wonder Bread “built strong bodies 12 ways,” and that Velveeta was really cheese. They eventually began to yearn for the Eden they had lost in their quest for ease of preparation, an Eden where food was real, nutritious and not tainted with preservatives, pesticides and hormones.
The locovore movement was born, and, for those who are economically able to embrace it, there is now a cornucopia of wholesome, flavorful foods to choose from. Among those are the cheeses crafted by the Benedictine nuns at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, where Sister Noella Marcellino has gained renown as “The Cheese Nun.”
Sister Noella, who received her Ph.D. in microbiology from the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of Connecticut, spent four years in France in the 1990s—first on a Fulbright Scholarship and then a three-year fellowship from the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique—collecting native strains of the yeast-like fungus Geotrichum candidum from cheese caves in France to assess its biochemical and genetic diversity.
In the process, she traveled 30,000 kilometers through the cheese-making regions of France, collecting samples from the ceiling of cheese caves and gathering histories from traditional rural cheese makers. The latter proved difficult. “The traditional cheese makers felt challenged,” she said in an interview this week. “Who was I? I was an American in France. I was a traditional cheese maker—they could see that from my hands… and a nun … . It was a real challenge (to get past their reserve), but it was an amazing way to see France.”