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American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields Paperback – May 22, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is very well-researched with lots of useful and fascinating context and background, but above all, it's one of the most entertaining and readable books I've had in my hands in a really, really long time. Mr. Jacobsen is a very fine writer.
This book covers so much then just Terroir as it relates to wine, which is probably how many of us know the term. It literally goes all over the map of North America, covering all kinds of foods and beverages. The chapters are short, so you can savor it a little at a time, which is how I read it. Included at the end of each chapter are recipes and background information. If you want more, it is easy to take the next steps. In each chapter you get an eclectic blend of history, geography, biology and even some economics. You not only learn about food from different regions, but you get to know the people who farm/harvest/prepare these different foods. I'll say "eclectic" again, because the word fits perfectly.
If you like to eating, drinking and reading, you will enjoy this book. It certainly makes me want to try some new things.
I have the Kindle version, and must say the formatting leaves something to be desired. (Hence, no 5 stars) No table of contents, no pictures. (Although the captions for the pictures are there, which is frustrating)
The hardcover version just hit the "bargain price" range, so I am going to get a copy to supplement my Kindle version.
"Terroir", as some readers of this humble review may know already, is a French term, almost always associated with wine, that is the compound of the unique elements of 'place' (climate, fauna/flora, soil, etc.), which , almost magically in some cases, influence taste. . French passion for terroir isn't limited to wine, however...many French foods (cheese, even chicken from Bresse) have terroir inspired appellations associated with them. And since the French have arguably influenced Western cuisine more than any other (Italians and Spaniards also have a case), then Terroir should be, but isn't, one of the pillars of Western culture.
Maple Syrup, coffee, avocados, native oysters, honey and, of course, chocolate are some of the unique American (North American really as Canada and Mexico chapters are also wonderful) 'terroirific' foods featured. Why is maple syrup from Vermont so special? Why are Rowan's neighbors carrots so 'carroty'? I had no idea coffee, chocolate, honey (mead, for example) or avocados had such depth... the chapter on forest edibles in Quebec is fascinating and memorable...
There has been so little written on the subject of terrior in North America outside of wine. And, quite evident from American Terroir, there is so much to discover. This book is, hopefully, the start of a passionate movement for such discovery... and even if it doesn't inspire you to take part, reading it should still make you very happy.
This is a very easy to read book. I loved the detailed descriptions about how the foods he eats while researching the book taste and smell, and he does a good job providing historical and background context. My only criticism is that a majority of his chapters seem to be based on the New England states or the Pacific Northwest. I wish he had cut the recipes at the end each chapter and, instead, written another chapter or two. (Maybe one on Hatch chiles next time?)
This book does Vermont, and our continent as a whole, incredibly proud.
The combination of scientific explanation, narrative, and applicable info like recipes and where to eat make it an indefensible guide to anyone interested in the finer points of food and farming.
THANKS FOR THIS!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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