Beware the meta-cheese

There is one distinct disadvantage to audio books. You don’t get to see how things are spelled, or how the words are arranged in a sentence, and sometimes that can make all the difference in understanding. The reader’s particular accent and how they decide to pronounce a name can make this even more difficult. I’ve written before about not knowing how names are spelled in fantasy books I’ve listened to. Well, it can be a problem in non-fiction, too.

Take the lecture series I’m listening to on the Renaissance. Right now we’re discussing the history of Florence, Italy, and its contribution to the birth of the Renaissance era. Fortunately I’m familiar enough with history that this didn’t throw me for a loop, but I can see someone else getting a bit confused.

Did you know that for the better part of the 1400’s Florence was controlled by the meta-cheese? Or should it be “Meta-cheese”? Whatever this cheese was, it was obviously not a type of Limburger, as the meta-cheese controlled things subtley, from behind the scenes.

I suppose it could just be a title within hierarchy. If a ruler was powerful enough to be considered “The Big Cheese”, then they needed something above that to show that another ruler was even more powerful. Hence “The Meta-Cheese”. The hierarchy went like this: Mini-Cheese, Little Cheese, Cheese, Big Cheese, Huge Cheese, Ginormous Cheese, Honkin’-Big Cheese, and Meta-Cheese. (Or perhaps I’m miss-hearing it, and it should be “Medi-Cheese”, meaning “middle cheese”, like the Mediterannean is the “middle sea.”)

The reign of the meta-cheese was ended in the late 1400’s, when Charles VIII conquered Florence en route to claiming the throne of Naples. I suspect, however, that he had help. I’m thinking he employed a mercenary mozzeralla, or perhaps it was an elite, well-aged parmesan.

(In case you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about yet, go here.)


On a semi-related side note, I recently finished the audio book of “The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterannean”, by David Abulafia. I enjoyed it enough and found the information useful enough that I bought a copy for my reference library. Holy Moley! The thing is at least four inches thick! In paperback! No wonder it took me so long to get through it! Still, very interesting book. (Note to self: You haven’t reviewed this book yet)

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3 Responses to Beware the meta-cheese

  1. Annette Green says:

    There needs be a kitchen white-board illustration to go with this post. I’ll bring the markers!

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