Reading Recommendation: The Telling Room

The Telling Room


The first in our recommended reading list of books that will stoke your desire for Spain or food or just a cracking story well-told, is Michael Paterniti's THE TELLING ROOM. A work of literary non-fiction, it's a book about a cheese so spectacular it induces a state of reverie upon tasting it, yes. But, it's more a book about an impossible character, Ambrosio Molinos de Las Heras, the man responsible for recreating a long-lost family recipe for this cheese of dreams that brings "... a moment of pure, gustatory pleasure..."; the mystery of how it all goes wrong; and the power of stories.

The author himself becomes entangled in the tale, moving his young family to Ambrosio's tiny village of Guzmán, Spain in pursuit of a new, old-way of life and to uncover the truth of the treachery at the heart of the story.

But, the story is always changing.

The book's title comes from a cave carved into a hillside overlooking the town, where a timeworn door opens onto a small room containing only a wooden table and two benches. Here, in "the telling room", Ambrosio and his family convene in the evenings to sustain themselves with cheese, wine, and stories. Paterniti first encounters the enormous cheesemaker in this place where fact and fiction intertwine. Along with the extraordinary cheese he's treated to an hours-long history of love, betrayal, and revenge that inspires him to write the memoir, travelogue, mystery, adventure that is this enthralling book.