Accepted abstract - Creative Tastebuds Symposium

The representational and material landscape of artisan cheesemaking 

By Kelsey Oldbury

Small-scale artisan cheesemaking has developed in Sweden over the past two decades and continues to grow. Based on sensory ethnographic fieldwork undertaken with one Swedish artisan cheesemaker and the farm from which she purchases milk, this paper aims to explore how artisan cheesemaking in Sweden relates to the Swedish landscape. The relationship between taste and place is a key part of this and is used to discuss how representational landscapes and food traditions are re-articulated in the present. This paper traces an artisan cheesemaking taskscape through the regional collaboration between cheesemaker and farmer to show how space and taste come together through cheesemaking. It explores the artisan making practices that turn milk to cheese highlight the skilled and sensory aspects of cheesemaking while techniques of ageing cheese in place emphasise the gathering power of both place and cheese. The materiality of cheese – its ability to draw together people, animals, technology, time and landscapes – make it a material object that acts as a meeting site for both representational and material landscapes. Thinking about how taste acts as a thread to connect different actors involved in the production of cheese is one way to explore how our conception of, and relationship with, landscape is re-articulated and used in narratives about the material world.

Key words: artisan cheesemaking, cheese, landscape, sensory ethnography, place, materiality, Sweden