Desert Terroir

Posted by on Aug 22, 2011 in Books, News | One Comment

Or is that Desert Terror? I didn’t know what a terroir was either, until I illus­trated this book of food history and stories by Gary Paul Nabhan last winter. Desert Terroir will be published by The University of Texas Press in 2012.

illustration of Nabhan cover Desert Terroir

Cover design featuring a Paul Mirocha painting.

illustration of desert communion Desert Terroir

Scavengers have to eat too.

Terroir, of course, comes from the French word terre, meaning “land,” and refers to the sometimes undefin­able tastes and quality given to food or drink by the native soil, geography, climate, etc. in which it is grown. Specifically the natural aspects of the environ­ment that are not under human control.

The concept, or concrete fact, as some would say, of terroir is the basis for the French appel­la­tion system for wines. A Burgundy wine has to come from Burgundy, and they can trade­mark and protect that from imita­tors.

Now terroir is appar­ently a borrowed English term. So you can use it at your next cocktail party to start a conver­sa­tion.

illustration of 1 mesquite tortillas Desert Terroir

Making mesquite flour tortillas

Terroir origi­nally referred to wine produc­tion, but has been applied more recently to many other local foods around the world. So yes, this book is part of the local foods culture by one of it’s origi­na­tors.

We crave food with stories,” says the author. Some of thesto­ries are more apealing than the food they are about, but that’s what books are for. We crave stories, I think.

illustration of 2 hungryforhome Desert Terroir

Hungry for home: the three year walk of Esteban the Moor across the Southwest.


illustration of 6 baja capirotada Desert Terroir

Date palms: from the Middle East to Baja California.

illustration of corvina ceviche Desert Terroir

Mexican cowboys turn to fishing in the Gulf of California to make a living, sometimes catching endan­gered fish.

illustration of corriente Desert Terroir

Mexican Corriente cattle, descended from the cows brought to the new world on ships by the Spaniards, are now being raised by Arizona ranchers as a specialty meat and grazed on the stinking hot desert.

illustration of oregano Desert Terroir

Mexican Oregano and the essen­tial oils that give desert plants their distinc­tive and addic­tive flavors.


illustration of big bend Desert Terroir

Living off the land around the Big Bend.

1 Comment

  1. Cooking with Native Foods: Mesquite Flour and Desert Oregano – Deborah Small's Photo Blog
    November 13, 2016

    […] © Paul Mirocha: http://​paulmirocha​.com/​d​e​s​e​r​t​-​t​e​r​r​o​i​r​/​#​.​U​k​c​t​a​2Sidn8  Center for Sustainable Environments: http://​www​.environ​ment​.nau​.edu/​i​n​t​e​r​n​a​t​i​o​n​a​l​/​o​r​e​g​a​no.htm […]


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