In The Telling Room, Michael Paterniti traces the backstories of both a rare Spanish cheese and Ambrosio, the man who learned to master its creation. After finding the delicacy working for a deli in college, Paterniti set out on a journey from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the small town of Guzman, Spain to unfold the mysterious cheese. Instead, he discovers a village brimming with secrets, ready to be released.
As The Telling Room begins, Paterniti details his spiral from confident writing student to struggling writer with a relateable, witty voice. Once he discovers Ambrosio’s cheese and makes the decision to tell his story, Paterniti’s style shifts to that of the telling room: detailed and verbose with pages of footnotes, a story for every story. While I commend him for working to bring Ambrosio’s storytelling to life, it’s a difficult voice to translate to the page and, despite my curiosity, I often found myself wishing for more simplicity.
This, however, is coming from someone with little background in the food culture. I have a sense that foodies will find the details in The Telling Room fascinating and have plans to recommend Paterniti’s book to several friends – perhaps they’ll cook me dinner in return.