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.
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.
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.