The Taste of the Place reading was very insightful and was pretty deep. In my opinion, it was the most complex reading so far this semester. In the introduction, the author introduced the idea of the French term terroir, meaning the taste of the place. It’s the idea that along with every taste there is a sense of knowing the place of origin, such as its locality, temperature, and even soil. The author went on to compare France and America. They said that due to the United State’s large use of globalization and presence in free-market trade we have lost our sense of terroir. The author had a powerful quote, where they equated getting food in America is as mindless as getting gas for your car, we put more emphasis on convenience as opposed to taste and quality.
In the first chapter, the author talks about the origin of terroir. She talks about how grapes introduced the possible link between a particular taste to a place and time. Since then, connoisseurs in France have studied the idea. Also, in this chapter, she talks about the work and research from Kolleen Guy. Guy researched the link between champagne and terroir. Guy wanted to give champagne a new “marketing” twist. They had the idea that champagne could have a similar link to terroir. Guy mentioned that mostly, champagne was a drink that the wealthy and elite would enjoy, but champagne put an emphasis on the boujee label, rather than giving credit to the tough blue-collar work done by the workers in the field. Also in the first chapter, the author mentioned a fellow author by the name of Curnonsky. The main theme of Curnosky’s work was educating professional chefs and cooks about the origin of the food and riches of different regions. This put an emphasis on the link between foods and particular regions supporting Amy’s theme of Terroir. There was a quote in the reading claiming that France had 30 distinct terroir or regional specialties. This quote stuck out to me and made me think of any possible terroirs native to Fredericksburg or the local area. (I couldn’t think of much)
In chapter 5, the author talks about living in Vermont and connecting Terroir or Taste of the Place to the state of Vermont. The author mentioned how as time passed, Vermont had a serious decline in regards to agriculture and farming. This was due to the huge transition from agriculture to industrialization. The author did mention that the demand for milk and cheese rose as more people made the jump in careers, which I found to be very interesting. The author went on to mention the VFN, Vermont fresh network, which connects local and organic farmers to restaurants and chefs. I thought this was really cool. The idea gives the food an emphasis on Terroir and creates a taste of the place. The VFN puts an emphasis on giving a closer connection between producers/farmers and consumers. VFN was a great idea, but it did face some issues. One of the main setbacks was the inconvenience of the farmer delivering the food. They said that it was easier for chefs to buy from a national food distribution brand than to shop locally. I enjoyed reading the story about one of the success stories through the VFN, where Leslie and her restaurant, Smokejacks put an emphasis on farm-to-table and supporting local farms. They specialized in local cheeses and gave their product a taste of place. It was cool to see that there are over 200 restaurants that are involved with VFN.
In chapter 6, the author talks about the differentiation between the taste of place and brand. The author wanted to start the conversation about brand support and the use of local farms. In the reading, the author mentioned that most food spends days and thousands of miles traveling from farms and factories to our plates. She went on to talk about how huge brands and restaurants that have a large backing and support still use national distributors. She mentioned how fresh the food would be if they instead backed local farms and farmers. She went on to talk about Vermont’s famous maple syrup that is distinctly connected to the place of origin. She talked about the study done in Vermont involving maple syrup and tying it to a place. They found that there isn’t much differentiation in taste based on the place of origin of the syrup. This idea opposes the way the french tie tastes and places. This is due to maple syrup having a “uniform taste.”The author concluded the chapter talking about an organization from Piedmont, Italy called, “Slow food”. This group puts emphasis on the tastes of the region. This group was dedicated to tasting food. They even grated an event that stretches over the course of a week where they basically become connoisseurs and eat slowly and focus on the taste of the food rather than the sustenance.
Overall, I enjoyed this reading. It was a little lengthy, but it definitely made me rethink the foods I eat and start drawing connections between tastes/flavors to locations or cuisines.