Cottage cheese faced a problem: After World War II, batches of the soft, lumpy dairy concoction developed a propensity to take on a rancid odor and a bitter taste. That changed in 1951, when dairy researchers identified the culprits, three bacterial miscreants that produced this “slimy curd defect.” To prevent the condition, researchers advised cheesemakers to keep these bacteria from entering their manufacturing facilities in the first place. Thus ended the scourge.
Despite this and other advances in cottage-cheese production, like texture analyzers, high-powered microscopes, and trained human tasters, cottage cheese has never enjoyed the same popularity as yogurt. That’s because cottage cheese, once revered for its flavor and versatility, has taken a series of gut-punches in the dairy sector: enduring associations with weight loss, inconvenient packaging, and near-total displacement by its cousin, Greek yogurt, to name a few. But stalwart food scientists and artisanal dairy farmers have high hopes for the future of cottage cheese. With yogurt sales on the decline, a golden age of curds might be right around the corner.
For me, turning 40 isn’t about going bald or tallying up my professional accomplishments. It’s a process of coming to terms with the unknown — with the space between “going to” and “hope.” It’s a shift in perspective, moving from my youthful optimism that everything would work out in the end to a tenuous but ultimately richer embrace of uncertainty.
It is refreshing to read a writer who varies his writing approach with each new book. It shows that he’s a storyteller who thinks deeply about the best way to tell a story, not just the story itself. It’s a formal restlessness that has paid dividends in the past, and it’s done so again.
Elms’s book is perhaps best read less as a history of a city than as a nostalgia-soaked account of a middle-aged man pining for his youth. It’s significant that he opens with his mother’s final days in a hospital on Euston Road, during which she waved a frail hand towards the window and said: “This is no longer my London.” She had worked as a parlour maid in Belgravia and as a clippie on double-decker buses, but in her dotage the city had become a stranger. In London Made Us, Elms grieves both for his mother, who died a few days later, and for the city that forges forward irrespective of the wishes of those who live in it.
It may not be a good story, but Giraffes on Horseback Salad makes a good book. Frank's tale of how he found Dalí's script and organized the project — enlisting the help of Heidecker and the Pixies' Black Francis, whom Frank worked with previously — is entertaining cultural history. His descriptions of Dalí striving to make his mark in Hollywood are funny, too. The great artist may not have "gotten" humor like he thought he did, but in this book he's comical in spite of himself.