The Watershed Project welcomes James Beard Award-winning author Rowan Jacobsen to our second annual event, Bubbles & Bivalves, a celebration of native oyster restoration. To give you a taste of Rowan’s inimitable style, we’ve excerpted some of our favorites passages from his books.
From The Living Shore by Rowan Jacobsen:
“When the full moon hauls back the waters, they emerge, a glittering band along the shore, like doubloons washed up from the wreck of a Spanish galleon. They close their shells tight and, for a few hours, become land. Bears slip out of the cedary woods and trundle over them, picking at small fish that lingered too long. From a distance you might think they were glinting rocks, just another cobbly beach, rather than acres of living coastline. But if you stepped out of your boat and explored, old shells popping softly beneath your boots, you’d smell their salt-spray aroma and hear the crackling of receding water droplets and know that they were the living sea itself, holding on to the land to keep it from squirming away. And if you sat down among them and pried open some shells and tipped the briny flesh into your mouth, you might get some sense of how it had always been.
Then the moon lets go and the water returns, snaking along the low points, bubbling up like springs from under the shells. Soon they are covered, and they phase back to their other existence. They open their shells and drink in the sea. The bears withdraw and sixteen-armed purple sea stars pull their way up the tide’s advancing edge, gobbling as they go. Tiny creatures hunker down beneath the shells, within the shells, spinning out little lives in a biogenic world. For a few hours, they disappear beneath the waves. And if you arrived at high water and didn’t take the time to poke around, or if you were from some place where the land and the water have already come unglued and you assumed that the world you knew was the one that had always been, then you’d probably keep on going, and you’d never even know they existed at all.”
From American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen:
“…all you need to understand to begin to explore the idea of terroir, a French term, usually associated with wine, that can be translated to “the taste of place”. (Don’t worry about sounding like Inspector Clouseau when you pronounce it; just say, “tare-wahr”) It’s a new concept in the word of gastronomy, yet it’s not a new idea. If you grew up or spent time in the country, your family may have loved getting sweet corn from a particular farm stand. There may have been lots of farm stands in the area, but Farmer Brown’s corn always tasted better, There was something about Farmer Brown’s land– the soil, the water, the microclimate. He had the best spot, and he had the best corn.
That’s terroir. And it’s that simple…
We have a long way to go to tease out the best expressions of terroir of many places, and an even longer way to cultivate a society that appreciates the attempt but the last few years have seen a blossoming of enthusiasm and creativity that I feel confident in asserting that American terroir’s time has come.”
Come help us celebrate our own Bay Area terroir by attending Bubbles & Bivalves, our annual event to connect Bay Area residents to their watersheds, their foodsheds and our unique terroir.