Tales of Terroir

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At times like this, food regresses to its most traditional role, the buffer between you and hungry, the fuel to keep your muscles moving. The taste of a hectic week is the piece of biscuit and swallow of cold water you savor at breakfast time, while the horses blow at the end of a row. It’s mayonnaise and lettuce sandwiches in the field at noon, scented with the soil on your hands. It’s the platter of hot–smoked ribs your neighbor drops on the kitchen table for your family, because he knows you’re too busy to cook. It’s one cold beer at sunset over windburned lips.

In a crazy year like this one, when the conditions offer endless challenges instead of easy abundance, we could go to the store and buy strawberries if we wanted to. But they wouldn’t taste right to me now, even if they tasted good. For better or worse, I like that our sustenance is tied to this particular time, to this particular place. It’s the taste of terroir, the taste of reality.

Kristin Kimball is the author of The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love (Scribner 2010). She tweets from the field.

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