In the narrow, remote valleys of the Alps, traditions and daily life have changed little in the past few hundred years. Every aspect of daily life revolves around the “terre” – literally the earth, the land, the soil. The term terroir has come to encompass all that is affected by this sense of place, the special characteristics that geography bestows upon particular plants and species, and even the people.
The terroir is the foundation of the local paysans' livelihood, the reason they are able to produce such particular wine varietals; as well as their cheeses, whose flavors vary greatly dependent on the soil and local grasses and wildflowers. Houses are built with local stone and wood. And the artisanal products reflect this in their flavors, whether the au de vie liqueurs and schnapps, or the distinctive dried saucissons, a fall mushroom polenta with foraged wild chanterelles and bolets, or a fondue or raclette with the local tomme of the region.
The quality of the flavors, scents, scenery and even personalities are all a reflection of their unique environments. By experiencing the terroir of these valleys, we achieve greater understanding of the land, and hopefully take away some ideas to simplify and strengthen our life at home.