I’m eating a chocolate truffle from Bernachon, the world-famous chocolatier in Lyon. It’s rich, buttery and decadent, and while not excessive, it’s very ample and intense, and projects a feeling of abundance. In this it seems to personify the very spirit of that city of gastronomy. In contrast, the truffles from my favorite chocolatier in Paris, Jean-Paul Hévin, seem to embody the Parisian ideal – in a colder, more reserved, more northerly city, the chocolate exhibits a greater sense of restraint, nuance and elegance. Is this a sort of terroir? Can the regional sensibilities of a people be identified and referenced in the same manner as we do the characters of soil and slope and climate?
(By the way, whether one prefers the Bernachon or the Hévin is a matter of taste – they’re both top class. I’m more of a northerly sort of guy myself.)