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OP: Cheddar Gorge

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by John Squire, editor
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The MacMillan Company, New York, 1938. Hardcover. Very Good. No jacket. Recased. First US edition.

England has rarely been appreciated for its cuisine, more often the butt of jokes than the subject of adulation. Sir John Squire (1884–1958)—poet, literary editor, and ardent conservative—sought to right the wrongful popular disdain, at least with respect to English cheeses, in his interesting and useful collection of essays, Cheddar Gorge (1937). 

Unlike France and Italy, where many foods in the market have legal protection for their places of origin, England long left some of its most cherished products unshielded. Bemoaning this state of affairs and believing that English cheeses would benefit from a bit of “vigorous propaganda,” Squire enlisted the aid of his contemporary gourmands and writers such as Ambrose Heath, Vyvyan Holland, Andre Simon, and Oliver St. John Gogarty to contribute essays on ten notable English cheeses—Stilton, Cheddar, Cheshire, Double Gloucester, Leicester, Wensleydale, Caerphilly, Dunlop, Irish, and Blue Vinny.

Virginia Woolf is said to have found Squire both crass and a hopeless tippler. In fact, he is credited as the originator of the one-liner, "I am not so think as you drunk I am." So it is, then, with expected arch humor and no great effort at elegance, the essays touch on the history, production, terroir, and even the literary connections of the cheeses in question.

Our copy is a 1938 first US edition in Very Good condition. The nicely put-together volume is printed on excellent, durable stock. The top edge has darkened somewhat. The pages are clean and the binding is tight. We have had it recased in vibrant yellow cloth, as the original UK edition was, with the title stamped in gold on the front and on the spine. This copy sadly lacked the jacket. 

A surprising and especially appealing element is a host of charming, good-humored illustrations by the always recognizable Ernest H. Shepard, of Winnie the Pooh fame. Cheddar Gorge is the perfect gift for the cheese-lover, the humorist, or the food historian.

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