Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cheese >
Sep 18, 2013 03:42 PM

The Telling Room By Michael Paterniti

A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese

In the picturesque village of Guzmán, Spain, in a cave dug into a hillside on the edge of town, an ancient door leads to a cramped limestone chamber known as “the telling room.” Containing nothing but a wooden table and two benches, this is where villagers have gathered for centuries to share their stories and secrets—usually accompanied by copious amounts of wine.

It was here, in the summer of 2000, that Michael Paterniti found himself listening to a larger-than-life Spanish cheesemaker named Ambrosio Molinos de las Heras as he spun an odd and compelling tale about a piece of cheese. An unusual piece of cheese. Made from an old family recipe, Ambrosio’s cheese was reputed to be among the finest in the world, and was said to hold mystical qualities. Eating it, some claimed, conjured long-lost memories. But then, Ambrosio said, things had gone horribly wrong.

By the time the two men exited the telling room that evening, Paterniti was hooked. Soon he was fully embroiled in village life, relocating his young family to Guzmán in order to chase the truth about this cheese and explore the fairy tale–like place where the villagers conversed with farm animals, lived by an ancient Castilian code of honor, and made their wine and food by hand, from the grapes growing on a nearby hill and the flocks of sheep floating over the Meseta.....

Has anyone read this book?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. i LOVE food fiction and non-fiction, and i read a LOT. in fact, i'm writing a cheese-themed novel. that being said, i could not finish this book. after all the PR it has gotten (i think i heard three different interviews on different npr shows alone), i was really excited to get my copy. where was the editor? the book is almost half footnotes. i found it so distracting, and frustrating to be pulled out of the story line by some random aside disguised as a footnote. i am going to give it one last try, on a flight to france next week. if i can't finish it on a long flight, with little else to read, that's the kiss of death. i'll leave it on the plane. ymmv.

    4 Replies
    1. re: chez cherie

      chez, do you have a recommendation or two instead?

      1. re: HillJ

        sure--off the top of my head:
        it's not you, it's brie

        cheese chronicles

        currently reading di bruno brothers house of cheese:

        1. re: chez cherie

          Thanks chez, I really appreciate some recommendations. I haven't read any of the titles you suggested. Second recommendation this month for the Di Bruno Bros title! How are you enjoying it?

          1. re: HillJ

            my pleasure, HillJ. i have only dipped into it--saving it for that plane(s). so far, it's delectable.
            another recommendation is the whole fromage