Is it possible to turn gastronome without surrendering your punk soul? That question bleeds through the text of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge by Rainbow cheese buyer Gordon Edgar. The 200-page memoir ( $17.95, Chelsea Green) traces Edgar's transformation from '80s punk misfit to foodie of sorts, a guy who's developed a love of Gruyère and chèvres while keeping his socially and politically progressive edge, the way the smell of Vacherin clings to your fingers.
It's a book that delivers the kind of rigorously inside information that so often reads as pedantry. But Edgar wears his carefully cultivated “cheesemonger” label with obvious pride: Not merely a cheese expert or lover, he never forgets he's a clerk in a grocery store, albeit a cooperative with an only-in-San-Francisco core of chip-on-its-shoulder social conscience.