paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 21 Nov 08 19:26
Agreed, and thinking also now of the mention earlier made of grapevines grown near wild herbs: there is a lot of chemical warfare that goes on between plants, chemicals released from roots to inhibit the growth of competing plants, that may trigger changes in the roots, and perhaps also eventually the shoots and fruits, of nearby plants on the receiving end of the signals or toxins or other factors.
Amy Trubek (katherine) Sat 22 Nov 08 06:52
I recently had a great conversation with Sister Noella, also known as the "cheese nun." Some of you may have read a profile of her in the New Yorker several years ago or seen a documentary. She is a cloistered nun in a Benedictine abbey who began making cheese and then got very interested in microbiology. She ended up getting a PhD and then a Fulbright to got France to study cheesemaking. She did her research on the many wild fungi and other microflora that are found in cheese caves and on cheese. She thinks these fungi impart flavor to cheeses and contribute to unique terroirs. She hasn't done much with the results but it looks like it may become part of her work at the abbey so look out for that. And yes, I do think that our values and sensibilities always inform more particularistic technical knowledge and practices! France is a culture very concerned (some would say obsessed) with tradition and precedent and so decisions about how to make wine, where to make wine and even how to taste the wine are wrapped around such cultural preoccupations. In the US we are more wrapped up in ideas of innovation and individual uniqueness. Although I would say that many of these cultural values are in great flux right now with the globalization of the marketplace. I look at communities of craftspeople dedicated to taste of place across the US and France b/c really small cheesemakers in both nations have more in common then a small cheesemaker in Vermont and a large industrial operation in Wisconsin or California.
What is going to amuse our bouches now? (bumbaugh) Sat 22 Nov 08 07:09
(A reminder: drop us a line at email@example.com if you'd like to contribute to the conversation but are not a Well member.)
Hugh Watkins (hughw1936uk) Sat 22 Nov 08 07:14
In Denmark I once discussed the difference between Tuborg GRØN and Carlsberg HOF "lager" beer with one of their master brewers many consumers cannot taste any difference and he explained it was the "brewery taste" caused by wild yeasts in the pipes which survive any cleaning see also the LAMBIC beers of Belgium http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambic
Amy Trubek (katherine) Sun 23 Nov 08 13:28
Did anyone see this past week's New Yorker food issue? This issue really took up many of the issues we have been talking about recently. There is an article about new US brewers who are using wild yeasts to make their beer. There is also a lovely article about a chef in China who has started a restaurant dedicated to capturing the traditional foodways of his region and he buys directly from hundreds and small farmers, foragers and others. He sees himself as preserving a culinary legacy in the face of all the pressures for modernization and industrialization in China. I was amazed at the many similar methods he has developed to Odessa Piper, who I profile in The Taste of Place. I really wonder if the globalization of our food system has really truly made "the world flat" when it comes to terroir as a type of intervention between the natural world, artisans, and the taste of food.
Amy Trubek (katherine) Mon 24 Nov 08 07:59
I am going out of town overnight so I am writing a bit now and will check in again Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. As a newbie on the Well, thank you all so much for participating with me in this fascinating discussion! And since we are talking about food, here is my Thanksgiving menu in the style of the taste of place. We are getting a turkey from down the road, from a couple who are raising turkeys and have a cow and selling unpasteurized milk (which I haven't tried b/c I don't really like straight milk). We have a huge garden so we will be having brussel sprouts from the garden as well as green mountain potatos for a potato gratin. We have some shagbark hickory nuts from our friend Odessa Piper which will put in our bread stuffing using baguetts from the fabulous Ren Hed Bakery as well as rosemary and thyme from the garden. Of course we have tons of apples so I am making apple galettes (a free form pastry tart layed with apples and a nut-cinnamon layer) and whipped cream from nearby Monument Dairy. I really do feel thankful I live in a such a bountiful region!
Cogito? (robertflink) Mon 24 Nov 08 08:21
My grandfather raised green mountain seed potatoes in the upper peninsula of Michigan back in the 'teens and twenties. Where can you get seed now? I think I remember that they are tasty but subject to scabbing.
(wiggly) Mon 24 Nov 08 16:18
Another good article on terroir in the NY Times: http://travel.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/travel/23explorer.html It's about Spain's Asturias cheesemaking region. Interesting article, but with this sad note: "But recently, the craft of making Cabrales has suffered âbecause so many young people are leaving Asturias,â said Ms. Viejo." Sounds familiar.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 24 Nov 08 17:03
I love that her name is Ms. Viejo.
Amy Trubek (katherine) Tue 25 Nov 08 13:54
I am a HUGE fan of the Green Mountain potato! Vermont was known for breeding this variety of very popular baking potato at the turn of the century but ultimately the russet won out in the major commercial market because, as you say, the Green Mountain is a more delicate. Here is a local person who sells the Green mountain potato seed over the web: http://peasleesvtpotatoes.com/products.htm I love the texture of the potato - it is flakier and more delicate than the russet and the Green Mountain does a much better job at absorbing flavors.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Wed 26 Nov 08 04:11
Writer Andrew Beahrs describes wild American foods for the Thanksgiving table, including the foods Mark Twain would have in a fantasy meal, in today's NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/26/opinion/26beahrs.html?th&emc=th
Amy Trubek (katherine) Wed 26 Nov 08 10:35
The concluding line of the New York Times article, when Beahrs asks us to consider the landscapes of our lives in relation to Thanksgiving is very thought provoking. I hope everyone in the Well community (and beyond) has an opportunity tomorrow to experience a Thanksgiving meal as part of a landscape, if it be an agrarian landscape such as the Zinfandel wine and the local turkey, or a landscape of memory as in th the cherished family recipe for cranberry sauce, or pie, or.... Bon appetit! Amy
(dana) Wed 26 Nov 08 11:04
Thank you, Amy, for a great discussion. We're going to turn our spotlight to a new conversation today, but you're welcome to continue here as long as you like.
Anne Boyd (nitpicker) Sat 29 Nov 08 06:51
Amy, it's been wonderful having you here and I certainly enjoyed your book, which I hope many more here will have the opportunity to read. If you are around long enough for one more question, and I'd throw this open to the rest of the group here as well, I was wondering how you think people learn about the taste of place - what it is, what its importance is, how to appreciate and share it. (Besides reading your book, of course.) You tell the most wonderful story about French kids having their own 'tasting' at a wine conference, where they taste different fruit juices and are encouraged to talk about what they are experiencing. You also talked about the role that restaurants play in helping form a cuisine of place, both creating it and communicating it to their public. What other ways do people have for learning about the taste of a landscape?
Amy Trubek (katherine) Tue 2 Dec 08 09:55
I think the best way to learn about the taste of a landscape is to find what I call in The Taste of Place the food artisans who have dedicated their lives to nurturing the relationship between the natural and sensory domains. Talk to a goat cheese maker about her cheesemaking practices and what she thinks makes her cheese unique. Then taste the cheese and then taste it again. And, like Michael Pollan, I say we should all try to grow food ourselves, even if it is just a small pot of cherry tomatoes on your balcony. And wouldn't it be great if the present campaign pushing the Obamas to "eat the view" and plant an organic garden at the White House were actually come to pass? Amy
Anne Boyd (nitpicker) Tue 2 Dec 08 19:49
Thanks, Amy, for that final thought, one we can all dine out on! And thanks everyone for your participation. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I have.
(dana) Wed 3 Dec 08 09:37
Yes, thanks again, Amy. (and if you haven't gone - does the Obama administration's rural agenda make you as happy as it does me? http://change.gov/agenda/rural_agenda/ )
Anne Boyd (nitpicker) Mon 16 Feb 09 20:02
Those of you who enjoyed Amy's chapter that discussed the fruit juice tasting held for kids at a French wine event may be interested in this NPR story: <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100746963> In Paris, Culinary Education Starts In Day Care In the land of high cuisine, even lunch in preschool is a culinary delight. French culinary traditions and knowledge are cultivated at a very young age. Even toddlers in day care centers are taught how to sit at a table and are encouraged to eat all kinds of foods.
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