Food Terroir

I've searched all over the internet and I'll be blowed if I can find any form of scholarly information about a subject I was ruminating on this morning. I thought that perhaps if I post about it, one of my readers may know more!

Through the world of wine we are already au fait with the concept of terroir - the philosophy that states that a certain wine's flavour is rooted to one spot through a combination of environmental factors that cannot be replicated elsewhere.

The thing that I've been mulling over is related to this but concerning meats, herbs and vegetables.
Namely - does terroir extend to the way that plants and animals in a certain area seem to compliment each other perfectly?

For instance, how is it that the ideal and complimentary herb for lamb, rosemary, also happens to grow in the very places that only sheep seem to love - like the mountains of Greece? Why do those perfect plate-fellows, tomatoes and basil, grow side by side in Italy? In the mediterreanean they love fish, and what goes best with fish but lemons, which just so happen to grow in profusion around it's shores...

my examples are not very good, but hopefully you get my gist

Is there a word or a scientific explanation for this connectedness, this rootedness of flavour combinations? Or is it simply co-incidence?


Gaw said...

I suspect the combinations are serendipitous. I guess a whole bunch of plants will grow in the vicinity of where animals are farmed and the chance is that some of them - or one in particular - will go very well with the locally-produced meat.

But I'm also not sure that animals and their accompaniments are necessarily to be found together. Lamb, farmed on dry, stony uplands will not be found with mint. Lamb farmed on wet, boggy marshes will not be found with rosemary. I would say, on the whole, it's meant when they're eaten together but happy chance when they're found together.

Regarding 'terroir' more generally, certain meats are highly dependent on their terroir: salt marsh lamb, iberico ham, Bresse chickens. But then that's probably not news.