A few weeks ago, I toured the Ranger Creek Brewery and Distillery. During the tour, the guide introduced me to a concept that I’d never heard of before. It’s called terroir. It’s kind of a complex term, but the guide explained it well: when a beverage or cheese’s flavor is affected by its environment, it has terroir. Anything from soil makeup to water hardness can contribute to a product’s terroir. According to our tour guide, any food or drink created in San Antonio owes it’s unique taste to San Antonio, Texas if it was made with San Antonio water or food grown in its soil.
I love this idea. The idea that tortillas made in San Antonio taste like San Antonio. But I don’t like to limit this idea to wine, cheese, and tortillas. Interestingly, many places in the States seem to have their signature twist on soda. Texas has Big Red. In Georgia and a large part of the south, we have Cheerwine and RC Cola. In Tennessee, they have Dr. Enuf. Don’t forget the regional snacks, either. In Idaho they have a candy bar called the Iowa Spud. The south? We’ve got MoonPies.
What do you crave the most when you’re far away from home? Probably the one thing you can only get in your home state, of course. Maybe because it tastes like home. Recently, I stumbled upon a box of MoonPies in the Dollar Tree near my house in San Antonio. My heart leapt up!
When I think about Savannah, I think about the food and drink. Service Brewing Company beer, Back in the Day Bakery Cupcakes, and Wang’s II Chinese food. I associate these flavors with home and I can’t seem to recreate them in San Antonio. Sure, I can find local beer in San Antonio. I can get cupcakes and Chinese food. But it just isn’t the same. Fried rice from Wang’s II is home. Fried rice from a rando takeout place in San Antonio might be delicious, but it isn’t home. Home is the terroir.
This got me thinking about people too. Do people have terroir? Do we “taste” like where we come from? Would I be the same person if I had been raised in Iowa instead of Georgia? Are we the sum of our experiences? Are we what we eat? Or are we who we are because of what we eat?