Self-described "kitchen witch" Jennifer Billock, 40, practices the ancient magical art of tyromancy, a form of divination that involves looking at cheese to predict someone's future. The Chicago resident not only offers cheese readings but now teaches classes so that others can know what the mold, cracks, scent, and other factors reveal about one's destiny.
"When you go to a cheese shop and you ask about a piece of cheese, they tell you the whole backstory to it," Billock says. "So, I want people to think more critically about cheese and enjoy it for what it is as a whole — and I also want them to get a little insight into their own lives and their own desires and needs and wants and potentially their journey."
From Book Club Chicago:
Though some may dismiss Billock's work as hocus pocus, the practice of reading cheese dates back to ancient Greece and Rome in the second century. The craft came into prevalence in the Middle Ages when cheese magic was often used to sniff out a criminal from a lineup.
In Billock's class at Uvae, participants were each given four pieces of cheese and a worksheet with space for notes and observations. With guidance from Billock, they noted different aspects of the cheese — a deep crack may hint toward a period of difficulty, while lines in the cheese may form a letter of someone significant in your life. Participants then worked to translate the clues by connecting them to their own personal thoughts, hopes and questions.
The extra cheese goes home with the class-taker for enjoyment, though Billock said a large wedge or piece isn't necessary; even a handful of crumbles will do. Or, if someone really wants a comprehensive reading, up to 20 pieces of cheese can be used.
Unfortunately, American cheese singles apparently don't have enough character to deliver great insight or foresight.