Monday, June 6, 2011

Off the Shelf: 'American Terroir'

"Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters and Fields" is the subtitle to this book, which focuses on food grown in specific (mainly) North American regions.

Author Rowan Jacobsen takes us on a food journey starting in Vermont, telling of why the land is able to produce the finest maple syrup. In each chapter, he not only describes the product, but also tells why and how the land is able to produce such a food -- and why it is not duplicable to other areas. 

For instance, coffee grown in Panama is so good because it is grown at such great heights, with the thin air making the beans denser, more refined with flavor. And the higher it's grown, the better. And since coffee trees can't survive at temperatures below 40 degrees, there's a limited space for them to grow. The tropics -- Panama included -- is one of those spaces.

The other chapters cover apples and cider from Yakima Valley in Washington state; honey varietals from New England, North Carolina and other coastal states; moules frites from Prince Edward Island; forest gastronomy from Quebec; oysters from Puget Sound; avocados from Mexico; salmon from Alaska; wines from California; cheese from Vermont; and chocolate from Mexico.

(I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that the author covered Vermont cheese and not Wisconsin cheese, but I can attest that I've had some great Vermont cheese.)

This book is as much about the land in (or on or under) which the foods grow as it is about the foods themselves. 

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