American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields

American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields

by Rowan Jacobsen

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608194599
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 09/10/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 1,140,792
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Rowan Jacobsen writes about food, the environment, and the connections between the two. His work has appeared in the Art of Eating, the New York Times, Wild Earth, Wondertime, Culture & Travel, NPR.org, and elsewhere. He is the author of A Geography of Oysters, which was nominated for both an IACP and a James Beard award, Fruitless Fall, and The Living Shore. He lives in rural Vermont with his wife and son.
Rowan Jacobsen is the James Beard Award- winning author of A Geography of Oysters and Fruitless Fall. Jacobsen's writings on food, the environment, and their interconnected nature have appeared in the New York Times, Wild Earth, Harper's, Eating Well, and Newsweek. He lives in rural Vermont with his wife and son.

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American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
snash on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This book is a fascinating collection of stories about food production in a manner that allows a particular food to taste of where it was grown. It chooses 12 different foods, from maple syrup to chocolate and from honey to salmon, describing the workings of nature and man to produce uniquely flavorful treasures. While some of the foods presented might seem just a bit precious, one's mouth waters reading of them. I learned a whole lot about nature like how and why Maples create their sap, and how bees achieve 20% sugar in honey. Each chapter is capped by a couple of recipes and a list of sources. It's an excellent, engaging and easy read.
wenestvedt on LibraryThing 17 days ago
I enjoyed the pieces individually, but I didn't really get the sense that a thesis was developed as the book progressed. Each chapter was successful as a stand-alone essay, but there wasn't an idea that grew and developed as I went through the book.Aside from that caveat, I would encourage anyone interested in food, the environment, or economics to read this book and reconsider the scale of what can be considered a unique, successful food product. (The chapter on honey was especially interesting to me, as my brother finally shared some of the harvest from his third year of bee-keeping.)
Emidawg on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Terroir is the flavor imparted to food by the land it is produced from. Many of today's factory farm foodstuffs lack this essential essence and are bland and homogenous. It is a good thing that there are people who still understand that good things come in time and are willing to grow low yeild crops or make small batch cheeses in order to give their customers the best flavor.This book is enjoyable "food porn", the descriptions of the land, processes and final product are quite drool worthy. I did occasionally find the flow of my reading broken by random pop culture references tossed in here and there ( A mention of Dumbledore in one chapter most notable). Overall however I enjoyed my read, and look forward to sampling some of the products mentioned in it. The author kindly provides sources for the foods discussed at the end of each chapter as well as recipes to use them in.
JackieBlem on LibraryThing 17 days ago
It will help you to know that "terroir" is basically "taste of place"--the unique qualities a place gives the food that grows up there. Sometimes it's mineral in the soil, sometimes it's the surrounding flora and fauna, sometimes we just don't know. But it's noticeable, and BEING noticed by more and more people these days. It used to be a wine thing, but has now expanded to a far greater gastric range.I got sucked in immediately, and savored every single page of this engaging, tantalizing, magical menu of culinary adventures (yes, there are recipes included). I now know that my life will never be complete if I don't go try some high mountain maple syrup while standing in the steamy evaporation shack, sweating in my flannel shirt. Or squish through the strange Totten oyster farm in Puget Sound at 3 am, when the tide is low. Or tromp through the fields of Quebec for cattails that Francois des Bois (Francis of the Forest) will show me how to cook and eat. Really, pretty much visiting anyone that Jacobsen interviewed and worked with for this book would be a delight. I was ecstatic to realize that I have actually tasted Taza chocolate (we sell them at work), though I was thrown off my it's texture until I read their part in this book and now understand that what I was tasting was hundreds of years of history.This is a fantastic read that will leave you drooling for the food and searching for anything and everything that Jacobsen has ever written (thankful, he does have other books). And, of course, wistfully scheming a way to visit those same places too. (sigh)
MrsLee on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Syrup and coffee and apples and honey. Potatoes and muscles and oysters and mushrooms. Avocados and salmon, wine, cheese and chocolate, these are a few of my favorite things! How could I not love this book?The author uses biology, history, geography, climatology, chemistry and horticulture, as well as the art of cuisine to describe the ultimate taste of my favorite foods. He does all of this with wit and charm. Rather than being smug or a food snob, his writing is that of an enthusiast who is excited to share what he has discovered. I may never be able to afford some of the special foods described herein, but it is nice to know they are there and becoming more popular. Others, I live right in the middle of them happening, like the specialty honeys and wines,so I can testify to the truth in those chapters. This book was engaging, enlightening and fun. Mr. Rowan incorporates two recipes for each type of food, and they sound excellent, soon to be tried in my household, as well as sources to hunt down the finer foods in life, so this will work as a resource, too. I'm very happy to have this in my household.
bostonian71 on LibraryThing 17 days ago
A well-researched, interesting collection of essays about food, its environment, its production, and the people who do their best to bring out its best qualities (versus the cookie-cutter methods of mass production). Jacobsen writes in a very engaging style, though his humor sometimes is a little strained. (Exhibit A: a footnote explaining why he chose not to use gender-neutral pronouns in comparing most wines to, er, dancers who render services for money.) All in all, worth a read for foodies.
Bcteagirl on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This book discusses what we have lost by large factory farms or industrial processes that combine the output of many farms together. Tastes and experiences that make local foods unique come out in the wash. Luckily with the resurgence in `local¿ foods people are beginning to notice Terroir: Local conditions (soil, weather, sunlight, etc) can combine to create unique and wonderful versions of food. Working through various examples, Jacobsen explains why Vermont makes great maple syrup (Quebec and Ontario do as well! Just saying!), why oysters from some regions simply taste better, and the grisly fate of chocolate before companies stepped up to the plate to create single region chocolate products. This book is both fun and educational, a must read for foodies.
EMYeak on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This was a very interesting look at the how the production of food and the taste of that food is influenced by the location of the production. Rowan Jacobsen spent time traveling to numerous places on the continent to do the research for this book. He spent time with the locals to learn their methods and enjoy the delicious food they prepared. Some of the chapters included the scientific basis involved in obtaining the desired end product. The chapters on wine and cheese were prime examples of that. I especially liked reading about the Yukon River salmon: the life cycle of the salmon and the people in the Eskimo village of Emmonak as they go to fish camp.Other chapters covered maple syrup, coffee, apples, honey, potatoes, oysters, avocados, and chocolate. One other especially interesting chapter focused on forest gastronomy in Quebec. It was amazing to read about the meals that could be prepared using only wild edibles gathered from the forest.Each chapter ended with one or two recipes and detailed information on resources relative to the chapter. I recommend this book to anyone with a desire to learn more about the importance of ¿place¿ as it relates to the ¿taste¿ of the food we eat.
detailmuse on LibraryThing 17 days ago
From Rowan Jacobsen:[Terroir is] a partnership between person, plant and environment to bring something unique into the world. The soil and climate set the conditions; the plants, animals, and fungi respond to them; and then people determine how to bring out the goodness of those foods and drinks.American Terroir* is Jacobsen¿s exploration of that ¿taste of place¿ -- why certain locales grow certain plants and animals so well, and the attentive harvesting and processing that transform them into outstanding foods. Think artisanal not industrial; imagine a reversal of the past century¿s flight from the farm and from all things "earthy." Jacobsen organizes years of research and tasting into a dozen essays, each a primer on a food and an armchair trip to a locale: Vermont maple syrup; Panamanian coffee; Washington apples and Vermont (hard) cider; locavore honeys and mead wine; Prince Edward Island mussels; Quebec mushrooms and forest greens; Puget Sound oysters; Mexican avocados; Alaskan salmon; California wine; Vermont cheese; and Mexican chocolate.There¿s history, biology, climatology, gastronomy, agriculture, production and business, and as close to a tasting as a book can get ... all packaged in Jacobsen¿s engaging narration, which has hints of Michael Pollan and Mary Roach. And each essay concludes with a recipe or two plus a list of sources that made me dizzy with possibility (first up: an orange-blossom sparkling mead wine). One of my favorite books this year!*pronounced like Renoir
difreda on LibraryThing 17 days ago
What a book! Jacobsen has knocked it out of the ballpark with an intriguing, educational, and meaningful treatise on just what makes a food from a particular location and conditions "the best"! Like the natural varietal honeys, harvested in small batches at a particular time of the season, the salmon that comes from a particular river in Alaska, The cocoa beans from a single grove in Mexico. All influenced by the care, location, climate to create the best most luscious foods on earth. Bu here in the North and Central American continent. A book that motivates the reader to think and appreciate their local surroundings is remarkable. This one can change one's behaviors to seek our own local treasures. One that comes to mind is our local "Boonsborough Cantaloupe" here in Maryland. It's rare to find one when you have mass produced imports arriving a cheap prices at the "local" farm stands, but if there were ever a queen of cantaloupes it's this one. Perhaps it's the limestone soil, maybe the acidic run off from the nearby woods, the altitude, ... Who Knows? As a locavore myself I have a bias for Jacobson's passions. Read this book and catch the infectious enthusiasm for America's local best.
lyzadanger on LibraryThing 17 days ago
Preacher, meet choir. I live in Portland, Ore., self-congratulatory hub of social Epicureanism. I am a former owner of urban chickens (1-2 eggs per day, yard-to-plate), married to a fermentation hobbyist; our friends buy meat not by the pound but by the animal, taking delivery on a quarter of a local cow here or half of a pig there. In yonder hill, dale, copse and valley are vines, berries, porcinis and salad greens, respectively, smugly delivered in weekly CSA boxes to rain-dampened porches. Farmers markets are de rigeur. It is not the done thing to buy one's produce at Safeway. In the building where I work is Oregon's first USDA-approved meat curing facility, where my husband's climbing buddy concocts brilliant salumi from possibly magical European recipes. I am already--do not misread this term--what Rowan Jacobsen calls a "terroirist".Jacobsen's "American Terroir" is a book that extols the concept of terroir, the specific complexities of edibles produced in a very specific place. Historically the term has been associated with winemaking, but Jacobsen urges Americans to wrest it from the hoity-toity grasp of wine snobs. It applies, he argues, vastly beyond vines and winemaking.Part travelogue, part wine journal, part economic-environmental manifesto, "American Terroir" delivers vignettes, little episodes in Jacobsen's vision of North American terroirism.Each chapter is an essay about a product--cheese, wine, maple syrup, oysters--profoundly influenced by its immediate environment. The gritty, salt-of-the-earth farmers and artisans who are portrayed here are the inverse of generalists. Focused and quirky, they are devoted to the specificities of their product: breathing, sleeping and working in tune with the land and its moods. It is, romantically, quite appealing.These men and women toil within a larger framework of markets and consumerism. Jacobsen shows us the vagaries of coffee and chocolate prices, the difficulties of establishing profitable cheesemaking facilities in Vermont.Predictably, living-wage co-ops and yeoman farmers are consistently the good guys, multi-nationals that pump out the bland, homogenous--albeit affordable--drek are the bad guys. In claiming that respect for land and locale, nuanced farming techniques, passion and responsible business practices are Good Ideas, Jacobsen isn't doing anything new.Where American Terroir shines is in Jacobsen's real talent for nearly erotic sensory description and journalistic travel writing. He's at his best when he gets so excited about the chaos of flavors in a particular Puget Sound oyster that he puts the anti-Walmart dogma stick down for a bit. Then it gets, frankly, interesting.I learned something. Several things. About how apples become redder the more they sunbathe, about the evolution of flavors during the maple syrup season in New England. Jacobsen peppers his food porn with facts and anecdotes that at times make the book hard to put down.
nmulvany on LibraryThing 17 days ago
This is a fascinating book about culinary specialties produced in specific and often small geographic regions. Terroir is often associated with vineyards that produce wine that has a distinct terroir ("taste of the earth"). Rowan Jacobsen takes the concept to its natural conclusion and shares with readers terriors ranging from New England apples and cider to Yukon River salmon.While most chapters are devoted to specialties of American regions, Jacobsen goes across the northern border to Prince Edward Island (potatoes) and Quebec (forest foraging). Jumping across the southern border we learn about special coffee (Panama), avocados, and chocolate (Mexico). Here in the U.S. Jacobsen presents maple syrup (Vermont), varietal honeys (various places), Totten Inlet oysters (Washington), wines (California), and washed-rind cheese (Vermont).Each culinary gem has its own chapter. The writing is especially engaging and informative. The first chapter is about producing maple syrup in Vermont. The author is able to describe in wonderful and amazing detail how the sap develops in the maple tree. Producing syrup from sap is a long and arduous process. Chapters end with recipes and resources that are quite useful. Midway through the book is a collection of color photos from the places discussed.Anyone interested in the nuances of excellent food sources will enjoy this book. Be warned, it will make you hungry. The writing is fully engaging and the book ends too soon.Unfortunately there is one serious omission. The book has no index. Where is Peet's Coffee? Yes, it's in the coffee chapter, but where? How about the fiddleheads, where are they discussed? Quite frankly, in a book like this the lack of index is inexcusable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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