Clifton Fadiman once defined cheese as ""milk's leap toward immortality."" Jones would concur. He notes with pleasure the increasing popularity of the cheese platter in America where a new breed of tyrophiles selects its brie and cheddar with the same care wine connoisseurs accord to fine French vintages. But for cheese lovers the news is not all good. The most venerable cheeses, whether Italian, English, French, or American, whether unripened, semisoft, firm, or hard, have a long and noble genealogy; mass-production and mechanization of the dairy industry are reducing the number of regional specialties and compromising flavor for efficiency. There are succinct directions for making your own cheese at home from scratch; a more expansive recipe collection follows with dips, canapes, and quiches as well as such specialties as Liederkranz Cheese-Beer Soup. On the question of herbed and spiced cheeses, Jones is conservative. Though he accepts authentic Vermont sage, be has little use for the very popular port-streaked cheddars. With tips on buying and serving cheese, and with a lexicon that ranges from Czechoslovakian Abertam to Russian Zakoussotchnyi--an ""effort to copy Camembert""--and lots of lore about cheeses favored by monks and kings, this is a sane, sanguine initiation into the best that Europe and America offer.