The taste of place

Which products are tied to the soil, the weather or even the air?


Editors | May 2005 issue

Remember this word: Terroir. You’ll probably hear it used more and more frequently in the years to come. It’s a term originally from the wine business that chefs and farmers are borrowing to make the case for locally-grown foods. It means, roughly, “the taste of a place”. What’s in the soil, the weather, even what’s in the air affects the taste of what you eat. For instance a lamb, he says, who feeds on the nuts and berries of a certain region will produce meat with a unique taste.

The European Union has classified 434 categories of food by geographic origins. That means champagne must come from France’s Champagne region and Parmesan cheese and Parma hams from Parma, Italy. In the United States, by comparison, the popular Philadelphia-brand cream cheese does not have to be made in Philadelphia. (Indeed, cream cheese made in Philadelphia cannot be called Philadelphia-brand unless it is manufactured by Kraft, the food giant that owns rights to the name.)

Recently, the EU issued a list of products that cannot be produced outside a particular region and still be called by the name of that region. Here are a few examples of products that are area-sensitive:

* Wine
Beaujolais. The Beaujolais area of the Burgundy wine region in southern France is a place where the soil contains granite or is rocky or sandy. The wine is made from the Gamay grape.
Bordeaux. The Bordeaux region of south-western France produces around one-third of the French quality wines. Wine has been made here for over 2,000 years.
Champagne. This famous festive drink comes from the north of France. The vines in the champagne region take root in a thick layer of chalk. The chalk provides the vines with the minerals that determine the unique characteristics of the Champagne grape.
Malaga. Sweet dessert wine with a distinctive taste from the region of Malaga in southern Spain.
Madera. The unique taste of this dessert wine from the Portuguese island of Madera comes from the primitive shipping methods used in the seventeenth century. The production process was conceived when it appeared that the wine tasted better after it baked in the hot sun. The wine is heated and sugar, among other things, is added.

* Cheese
Gorgonzola. This cheese is named after a small city just outside Milan. The cheese has been produced since the ninth century.
Roquefort. This cheese is prepared only from milk ewes that graze on the slate plateau around the French Aveyron region. The ripening process takes place in the natural caves under the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
Parmesan. This Italian cheese ripens for an average of two years.

* Meat
Mortadella Bologna sausage. This is the most famous sausage in the great culinary tradition of the Italian city of Bologna. It has been produced since the sixteenth century.
Parma ham. This Italian ham from Parma existed as far back as 2,000 years ago. It ripens for 10 to 12 months.

Solution News Source

The taste of place

Which products are tied to the soil, the weather or even the air?


Editors | May 2005 issue

Remember this word: Terroir. You’ll probably hear it used more and more frequently in the years to come. It’s a term originally from the wine business that chefs and farmers are borrowing to make the case for locally-grown foods. It means, roughly, “the taste of a place”. What’s in the soil, the weather, even what’s in the air affects the taste of what you eat. For instance a lamb, he says, who feeds on the nuts and berries of a certain region will produce meat with a unique taste.

The European Union has classified 434 categories of food by geographic origins. That means champagne must come from France’s Champagne region and Parmesan cheese and Parma hams from Parma, Italy. In the United States, by comparison, the popular Philadelphia-brand cream cheese does not have to be made in Philadelphia. (Indeed, cream cheese made in Philadelphia cannot be called Philadelphia-brand unless it is manufactured by Kraft, the food giant that owns rights to the name.)

Recently, the EU issued a list of products that cannot be produced outside a particular region and still be called by the name of that region. Here are a few examples of products that are area-sensitive:

* Wine
Beaujolais. The Beaujolais area of the Burgundy wine region in southern France is a place where the soil contains granite or is rocky or sandy. The wine is made from the Gamay grape.
Bordeaux. The Bordeaux region of south-western France produces around one-third of the French quality wines. Wine has been made here for over 2,000 years.
Champagne. This famous festive drink comes from the north of France. The vines in the champagne region take root in a thick layer of chalk. The chalk provides the vines with the minerals that determine the unique characteristics of the Champagne grape.
Malaga. Sweet dessert wine with a distinctive taste from the region of Malaga in southern Spain.
Madera. The unique taste of this dessert wine from the Portuguese island of Madera comes from the primitive shipping methods used in the seventeenth century. The production process was conceived when it appeared that the wine tasted better after it baked in the hot sun. The wine is heated and sugar, among other things, is added.

* Cheese
Gorgonzola. This cheese is named after a small city just outside Milan. The cheese has been produced since the ninth century.
Roquefort. This cheese is prepared only from milk ewes that graze on the slate plateau around the French Aveyron region. The ripening process takes place in the natural caves under the village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
Parmesan. This Italian cheese ripens for an average of two years.

* Meat
Mortadella Bologna sausage. This is the most famous sausage in the great culinary tradition of the Italian city of Bologna. It has been produced since the sixteenth century.
Parma ham. This Italian ham from Parma existed as far back as 2,000 years ago. It ripens for 10 to 12 months.

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