Natural Cuisine - Le Terroir
For myself at home in the Bordeaux region of France, I always enjoy seeking out natural ingredients that take advantage of Terroir. In developing new dining options I have been out and about researching and tasting a range of ingredients for menus that take full advantage of this traditionally rooted concept.
Terroir comes from the French word "terre", in English "land". It was originally a French term in wine, coffee and tea used to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon particular varieties. Agricultural sites in the same region share similar soil, weather conditions, and farming techniques, which all contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place," which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product.
Terroir is often italicized in English to show that it is a French loanword. The concept of terroir is at the base of the French wine Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) system that has been the model for appellation and wine laws across the globe. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region. The amount of influence and the scope that falls under the description of terroir has been a controversial topic in the wine industry.
The French concept of terroir is a way of describing the unique aspects of a place that influences and shapes the wine produced there, however terroirhas extended to identify the unique characteristics of a specific form of agriculture. While the natural elements are generally considered beyond the control of humans, the definitioncan be expanded to include elements that are controlled or influenced by human decisions.