Week 10 Blog Post- A Taste of the Place

This reading really reminded me of my dad, because of his connection to French cooking and the consistent concept of terroir and goût de terroir, which are inherently French. I appreciated the application of terroir and goût de terroir to wine and cheese in the beginning, because it helped me to understand the terms from the start. In chapter one, the notion of taste and place (and also time) through the lens of different wines reminded me of memory foods. Certain wines can transport you from a dark classroom to a sunny vineyard in France, much like memory foods have associated nostalgia. Similarly, the gastronomy of place made a lot of sense to me in the context of agriculture. Brillat-Savarin said that quality of flavor is linked to where the partridges come from and how they are fed. This reminded me of the difference in honey across different locations, because the flowers and vegetation that bees collect nectar from affects the flavor of the honey. The honey from my neighbors and the honey from Target tastes vastly different, because my neighbors’ honey is very local to us and the Target honey is likely from halfway across the country. I thought it was really interesting that the majority of the French countryside is still made up of small family-owned farms, because that concept has a high value placed on it in French culture. It was surprising to me because it has a high contrast to American agriculture, which is a large-scale, corporate adventure concentrated in very few hands. American culture left the image of the paysan behind in the 19th century, shifting towards highly centralized modern civilizations, while France remains split between these identities. Because of their split identity and value on fresh and local food, French people have a cuisine that relies much less on globalization than American cuisine. French people buy their daily bread from the vendor down the street, while Americans buy their bread pre-packaged at the grocery store once a week. I really liked chapter 7, because it was all about connecting farmers and chefs and it reminded me a lot of what my parents are doing at home. My parents are homesteading, but not to the degree that Gould defines. It is more reliant on incorporating outside food sources and not as religious as Gould’s idea of homesteading, although it is very rewarding for my parents to be close to their food sources. I found the bit about the Lazy Lady Farm comforting and hilarious, because she is consistently busy and expanding her product range based on customer requests. The terroir in her food must be really strong because her practices seem very organic and incredibly localized. I understood her struggle with finding a butcher, because so many butchers have closed within the last 20 years that finding a butcher within an 50-mile radius is difficult, especially if you are looking for someone who will make a specialized product. I thought the chapter about Vermont Maple Syrup was interesting, because of the legal implications around labeling. Until 2005, anyone could label their maple syrup “Vermont Maple Syrup” so long as there was some sap from Vermont. Despite this legal loophole, any grocery store customer who sees that label would believe that it is 100% Vermont maple syrup. This goes back to the association of quality with place, much like the French association of quality with an AOC wine from Bordeaux.

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