March 10, 2022 Blog Post “The Taste of the Place”

Overall I found “The Taste of the Place” by Amy B. Trubeck to be both informative but also quite “dry” at times in my opinion, so I will simply talk about the sections of the reading that I found most interesting to me, instead of what I didn’t much enjoy. The Gastronomy of Place was quite insightful, but also compelling since the concepts of “cuisine” as well as “Haute Cuisine” were discussed in what I would call a more detailed and informative manner than the Mintz article that myself and my partner had to teach in the beginnings of the semester. The way Trubeck describes and discusses the disparities between the economic classes within old France, was a much greater way of describing the origins of cuisine and how it can be a purely social construction based on the economic status of those that participated in the system. The division between aristocratic cuisine inventions, by that I mean the types of ingredients, methods of cooking, and presentation all where designed to please the palate of an upper class individual while the cuisine of the peasant class was the bear minimum of survival in that they had to get creative with what little grains, oats, meats, and vegetables that they were able to acquire in order to stave off complete starvation. This specific section of the texts really showed how little Mintz explained the concept of cuisine and Haute cuisine in my opinion since Trubeck gives a much clearer, detailed, and organized explanation of the concept of cuisine in the culture of old France. The section titled “Member Stories” that began on page 195, was another great section due to the author’s inclusion of specific Vermont farms and restaurants, and giving brief to decently long descriptions of what made each of these locations unique to the Vermont ecosystem which I found most compelling due to the fact that by giving us their names it allows for more independent research on our end if we so choose to continue learning about said establishment. The story of “Lazy Lady Farm” and how it has grown and how the owner Laini Fondiller has developed her skills at cheese making both abroad and within the United States is an excellent example of how foreign methodology and techniques can be honed, and transplanted into a new environment in this case Vermont, and can lead to the creation of a thriving business and new culinary tastes in a region. In particular the use of “terroir” to describe her cheese by David Hale is where French concepts and techniques continues to underline and develop many news techniques within the food industry to this day. Fondiller’s choice to preserve the methods of cheese making based on her original instruction in France shows a deep respect and love for the craft as a whole where in today’s mega-corporation styled economy the use of more efficient methods are highly valued over the more traditional ways which in eyes of Fondiller erases the origins of the styles and the history there within. Chapter 6, “The Next Phase” touches on a subject that I still continue to contemplate even after my reading of it has concluded, and that subject is the one brought forth by Mr. Murphy “Food is local as long as it is knowable.” This concept of “knowing” a food which I took as being the act of understanding where, and how a specific food product came to be and using that information to make and informed and happy purchase is what I am basing my own opinions on this matter. One of the examples given is commodification of Vermont Maple Syrup, and the idea of a unified “Vermont Brand.” As I am writing this blog post I have opened my own food cabinet and inside is two and a half bottles of sugar free “Vermont” Maple syrup. The idea of knowing a place and relating it to its specific taste is something that I am actively doing now, since I choose to keep buying this specific “brand” of syrup due to its specific taste of which I extremely palatable and as a result I know that this flavor, this taste is distinctly from Vermont. The culture that has evolved within Vermont pertaining around their maple syrup was quite informative in that it clearly breaks down a number of preconceived notions I had, and then proceeds to build up new ones, such as the classification of the syrup between different grades paints a new image similar to that of Wine which is something I never thought about simple maple syrup.

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