The Taste of the Place

The reading The Taste of Place seems to focus on exploring the relationship that people have with the food and drink that they consume. Similar to the Mintz reading on cuisine, this work seemed to focus on a central theme: the idea of location being central to taste and how consumers view their food. The author claims in the first section of the reading that one term used to identify the relationship taste and an individual is terroir, which is derived from the French. Trubeck then goes on to discuss how for many, specifically in France, taste is a representation of peoples connection to the land and work that went into producing the food and how regions vary in their culinary practices, all of which contribute to the different tastes and significance that food holds for people of different regions. I thought this was an interesting concept because in film and television, the French are always portrayed as (mentioned in the reading) connoisseurs of food and cooking and seem to have a heightened ability of taste and flavor perception. While this may be exaggerated for media purposes, I wonder if this idea stems from their active exploration and tracing of the origins of their foods and the importance placed on agrarian technique and its centrality to their palette.

The second area of focus from this reading is when Trubeck uses what she studied in France to American practices of taste, specifically in Vermont. From this section, I felt it to be an exploration of whether or not Americans practice terroir and if so, how they do that. The reading seemed to suggest that, while the French have strove to maintain their conscious palette and an understanding of where their food comes from and work hard to distinguish themselves from other cultures/regions, the US does not, or at least did not do so for a while. This seemed to be attributed to a few reasons, one of which was industrialization/globalization, and subsequently a disregard for the agrarian lifestyle and contributions starting around the 1970s-1980s (or perhaps peaking at that time). Recently, there seems to have been an effort to protect rural, local farm groups for the purpose of improving palette and establishing a more solid relationship with food and place as Vermont fought for recognition and a place among the culinary world.

The reading concluded with how the world would function moving forward with people not questioning where there food comes from becoming more frequent. Trubeck draws on the idea that people are becoming more satisfied with advertising and media explanations rather than experiencing first hand the taste of place, and in my opinion, after having read this book, if this trend continues the authenticity and complex ideologies that make up the idea of taste will be lost and unique palettes and cuisines will be less special and appreciated.

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