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Tasty Terroir

Terroir! A magic word for wine connoisseurs the world over. It’s interesting how soil conditions and location come up so naturally when discussing a wine’s flavour and characteristics, yet you just don’t hear these kinds of conversations about carrots. Even though the very same factors have a huge bearing on the root vegetable’s flavour too.

Swiss Deluxe Hotels Stories Summer 2022 Tasty Terroir 01 Karotten Claudios Urgemüse Ecirgb

Nicole Tanner, Operations Manager at my favourite local organic farm Birsmattehof, tells me that the condition of the soil can even vary within the same piece of land. And that means the flavour of the carrots grown there can vary too. Carrots can taste different from year to year as well. Their flavour profile is also influenced by the way they’re stored –  that’s the same for wine and other types of food.

For example, you wouldn’t want to be storing your carrots next to your apples, pears or tomatoes unless you want them to turn bitter fast. When it comes to meat, we talk about the origin, breed, rearing, diet, slaughter and ageing. So why don’t we go into as much detail for vegetables? We distinguish between Nebbiolo, Malbec and Pinot Noir on a wine menu.

“Crunch! Crunchy crudités with carrot mousse from ‘All’orto’, AT Verlag”

And we concern ourselves with fat levels and diet when it comes to Wagyu, Hereford and Angus beef. But do we know the difference between Küttiger Rüebli, Gniff and Jaune de Doubs? Did you know that on-trend carrots marketed as heirloom varieties are actually the result of clever cross breeding by the seed industry?

It’s really exciting to see all the current experimentation with vegetables by top chefs, as the trend shifts away from interchangeable luxury produce to simpler ingredients. Carrots and other vegetables are being stored in controlled conditions, fermented and even combined with koji. It’s time to give vegetables the attention they deserve by distinguishing between varieties, considering how they are grown and trying out different combinations. Let’s treat them the same as other foods with a higher profile and discover the huge and exciting variety of flavours that awaits.

Words & Photo Claudio Del Principe

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