Exploring the world in search of the rarest and tastiest spices

Prodigious salts, ancient herbal blends... The founder of the French brand Terre Exotique explores remote places to bring to our tables potent flavors from other worlds

Pilar Ferrández. 07/05/2015
Perlas de sal de Djibou
Terre Exotique, make clic to buy
Terre Exotique, make clic to buy

Erwann de Kerros’ boots are usually dusty with desert sand, or dirty with mud from the rainforest. This adventurous Breton have been exploring remote locations all over the world during more than a decade in order to find tasty, rare or precious spices and herbs. His findings are able to transform a tasteless dish, filling it with exotic flavors and distant echoes.

A pure white salt with an icy appearance which is born under the burning sands of White Desert of Egypt, and whose secret location is only known by a Bedouin family; an ancient and powerful blend of spices that 70 families of the Mapuche Indians produce in Tierra de Fuego; the enigmatic Blue salt of Persia; black and red Hawaiian salt, full of telluric power…

Erwann de Kerros in Djibouti
Erwann de Kerros in Djibouti and Diboujti salt pearls. Make clic to buy

Terre Exotique catalog, the brand that De Kerros founded in France 15 years ago, has now about 400 references: 150 whole or powdered spices, 110 different types of salt, 55 types of pepper, herbs, spices, mustards, oils, sugars … Most of those treasures come from small local producers. This universe of flavors is sold today to deli shops and catering service in 50 countries, generating a turnover of about 6 million euros.

«I had a farm in Africa …» Erwann of Kerros might well paraphrase the immortal words of Karen von Blixen in her memories book Out of Africa. It all started in 1993 in Cameroon. There he discovered an abandoned plantation of Penja pepper, a fruit that grows in volcanic soil and in a very humid climate. He managed to convince a small community of local farmers to revitalize the crop together and there, raising this intense woody taste pepper, he spent four years. The spice became the first product certified by a quality of origin seal in Africa.

Flor de sal con especias tostadas de Madagascar
Fleur de sel with roasted spices. Make clic to buy

On his return to France, armed with a grinder, he devoted himself to visiting chefs and publicize its findings. He found that there was great curiosity about the product and the invigorating power the exotic spices cuisines could offer to Western cuisine. Since then, he has toured more than 30 countries, always accompanied by a notebook in which he writes about local traditions and gastronomy and the stories of families who cultivate, harvest or collect each product. «We want to convey the magic and the ability to make you dream that every spice, herb or seasoning has», explains Patricia Rousseau, of Terre Exotique.

The popular British chef Jamie Oliver restaurant in Singapore or three Michelin stars Georges Blanc electrify their dishes with products from Terre Exotique, which can be found on the shelves of Harrods, Galeries Lafayette or the Grand Epicerie de Paris. In Spain they are available at the Gourmet Club of El Corte Inglés and in the beautiful showroom that the firm has opened in the heart of Barcelona, ​​in the gourmet meeting point LE18 (c/ Diputación 18), which acts as embassy for the brand, the first one opened by the company outside France.

Sal azul de Persia
Blue salt from Persia

A trip around botany, cuisine and culture of the world
With over a thousand points of sale worldwide, and many kilometers traveled, the curiosity of the alma mater of Terre Exotique drives him always further. Erwann of Kerros, Patricia Rousseau explains, returned from Ethiopia a few days ago. What new findings of aromas and flavors has he brought in his suitcase? Until we can discover them, we have selected some curious products which fascinates us:

  • Diboujti salt pearls: it is amazing that nature can carve itself such a perfect spheres. These salt balls that seem snowballs are the result of the simple action of wind and water evaporation in a hostile and warm environment, the Ethiopian Lake Assal, the saltiest in the world-except for some of the Antarctica- and the lower altitude point in Africa. In a lunar landscape these crunchy salt pearls are born with a very different size: the smallest can be used as a fleur de sel, and larger can be used after being crushed.
Viking salt
Viking salt. Make clic to buy
  • Mélange du trappeur (Trapper mix): it is said that the origin of this explosive blend of spices with salty, spicy and sweet notes was a pure chance. A Canadian trapper accidentally dropped a handful of salt in his bottle of maple syrup and applied the mixture to dried bison meat. The recipe proposed by Terre Exotique combines salt and maple syrup seeds, which are obtained by evaporating the syrup to 123 degrees (for 1 liter of maple syrup 40 liters of maple sap are needed!). It is also composed of onion, garlic, red pepper, pepper, coriander and oil.
  • Voatsiperifery wild pepper: in the rainforest of southeast Madagascar lianas of Piper borbonense, grows. This pepper is very fragrant and spicy. To get a kilo of dried pepper is necessary to collect 10 kilos of fresh berries. Its incisive fruit, flowers and wood aromas go with chocolate.
Terre Exotique, make clic to buy
Terre Exotique, make clic to buy
  • Viking Sal: this flavored salt with onion, salt, black pepper and turmeric has a strong and tasty smoked flavor and is capable of giving new life to potatoes, eggs or salmon. It comes from Egersund, a beautiful Norwegian port close to majestic fjords.
  • Dijon mustard with something else: Why not bringing together the best of several worlds? Terre Exotique produces Dijon mustards made with various spices. The mustard blended with red paprika has a curious end with notes of honey.


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