Terroir, a French term usually associated with wine, is what James Beard Award–winning author Jacobsen (Fruitless Fall) defines as "foods that are what they are because of where they come from." In a dozen informative and often funny essays spanning breakfast to dinner, Jacobsen deploys an open mind as he travels across North America and Mexico to demystify such curiosities as why the Yakima Valley in eastern Washington State produces a superior apple, how the red earth and algae-filled waters of Prince Edward Island in Canada conspire to create the delicious terroir-driven local dish of mussels and fries, and what makes chocolate "our most complex food." In each case, the answer is ecological and involves the specific interplay of biological, chemical, and geological factors that make an environment and, in turn, its food unique. To underscore that thought, each essay ends with recipes and a resource list. Throughout, Jacobsen cites fellow food writers, including Richard Manning, Michael Pollan, and Hugh Johnson. But beyond issues of slow food and sustainability, Jacobsen's affable, nerdy DIY spirit (he brewed his own mead for his wedding) challenges readers to rethink their relationship to food.
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The belief that individual plots of land can produce significant differences in crops has become an obsession for contemporary gastronomes. Terroir, a French word initially referring to vineyards, now applies to virtually every agricultural product: animal, vegetable, and mineral. Restaurant menus promote their kitchens’ offerings with names of local farms, and consumers demand orthodoxy in sourcing of everything from steak to succotash to salt. Jacobsen documents some of North America’s best growing places and producers. He describes apiculture and honeys in Florida and Arizona. He discovers the best avocados in Mexico’s Michoacán. He finds superior cheeses and maple syrup in Vermont. Northeast Canada yields both mussels and mushrooms. And Jacobsen sources the world’s most esteemed coffee beans from the mountains of Panama. In his travels to these far-flung farms, Jacobsen shows that it is as much farmers’ dedication to their profession that counts as the soil itself. --Mark KnoblauchSee all Editorial Reviews
The book covers a lot of ground and is fascinating for the most part. There are a couple of factual errors especially in the chocolate chapter that makes it hard for me to give it... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Zach J Lohman
This book is to be savored.
I am very blessed in that a few years ago, I moved to rural Maine where we savor local honey, maple syrup, and heirloom apples and potatoes, weird... Read more
I was heading to Sonoma and wanted to learn about terrior when I found this book. Although only one chapter is dedicated to wine, I walked away with a solid understanding of the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by TBitler
Great set of stories that covered more than just food - ideas are the key!Published 14 months ago by Michael J. Heffler
Food and cooking is my passion, and how I make my living. I own a good reference library, as all good cooks should. Read morePublished 15 months ago by UrbanMonique
I finally understand why I can taste things like melon and peaches in some wines, and why some apples are crispy and others not. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Can't travel so cook
a highly rated tome which links the unique qualities and taste of food to the location it was grown -Published 19 months ago by caffeine
Americans don't spend a lot of time thinking about their food, and it's a shame - because the history of some of our favorite food items is fascinating. Read morePublished 21 months ago by C. Lemanski