Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields

American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen
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's review
Sep 14, 2010

bookshelves: anne, nonfiction, staff-picks-blog
Read in September, 2010

In American Terroir, Rowan Jacobsen travels throughout North America to taste the flavors of the continent. And it’s all about flavor. “Terroir,” a term usually associated with French wine, is applied to apples, honey, maple syrup, oysters, and chocolate, among other foods. Jacobsen takes a look at the terrain (and waters) that has made the flavors of these foods special.

For example, terroir is very important to the cheeses (Bayley Hazen Blue and Constant Bliss) from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont. The flavor of the cheese really depends on the Ayshires grazing the Green Mountains. Of course, cheese-making is more complicated than that and Jacobsen discusses how Jasper Hill has a distinctive process. But, all cheese starts from milk. If you didn’t have that type of breed grazing on that particular terrain, the taste would be entirely different.

Jacobsen’s prose is funny and playful, yet informative. My favorite chapters are on honey, chocolate, and foraging in the forests of Quebec to find chanterelles, daylily buds, and cattails. I am now on the look out for interesting honey (blueberry honey sounds very enticing) and am very intrigued by Mesoamerican chocolate. If you are interested in food, I recommend checking out American Terroir. --Anne

From ICPL Staff Picks Blog

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