Terra Madre — The Last Chapter
It’s been a busy few days and now Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto are over for this year. It is an amazing experience that is difficult to summarize in a blog. I’ve sent a few photos to Stacey to post on the website that I took with my blackberry. Have lots more on my camera that I will use to do a program some time in January or February. The diversity and passion of the attendees at this biannual meeting is what stands out the most I think. All the opportunities for learning and communicating with other people who are passionate about improving our world food system and the environment that sustains it are overwhelming. Somehow you have to just breathe and take one thing at a time, whether it is standing in the espresso line and finding out from a Canadian delegate that hotels in Canada are now keeping bee hives on their roofs, or visiting with a Ohio nurse who has started farmers markets and uses Slow Food volunteers to help the farmers unload their produce.
The large meeting area at Lingotto (site of the Torino 2006 Winter Olympics) was crammed with exhibits like the one in the photo of apples representing some of the 500 varieties of apples that were raised in the Piedmont at the end of the 19th century as compared to the 5 varieties that are sold in stores now (the same ones sold in our stores). Also covering much floor surface are some of the food and products of people from the Philipines, Ethiopia, Uzbeckistan, Sierra Leone, etc. How many of us knew that Shea butter (the ingredient in many cosmetic products and lotions) is produced from nuts growing in Africa?
The most inspirational gathering during the conference was the meeting of all the Chapter Leaders where a few of the chapter leaders from around the country gave summaries of some of their projects which are enriching and changing their communities: the proliferation of school gardens, “scratch” cooking classes for school cafeteria staff, programs to assist women become farmers, transitioning industrial farms into organic farms… Alice Waters (with an enormous bunch of celery as her prop), Slow Food USA President Joshua Viertel, and Slow Food Founder and President Carlo Petrini concluded the meeting with remarks exhorting us to work hard (like the snail) to transform our food system. Our project for next year will be to support the creation of 1,000 gardens in Africa to help feed their people.
More details and photos about Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto will be shared at a meeting in January or February. We will email you and post the information on our website when the plans are finalized.
Ciao for now!
A Terra Madre welcome
Now that I have access to a computer with a larger keyboard (although all the keys aren’t in the same places) than my blackberry, thought I would give you a quick update on our travels to Terra Madre. After a few days in Santa Margherita and Viareggio on the Meditteranean coast eating frutti del mare and taking trains through the rich agricultural areas between the coast and Tuscany we have arrived at Torino for the main event! Yesterday was the opening ceremony for Terra Madre with about 5,000 delegates from all over the world, hundreds in their colorful native costumes. In addition to the customary local officials’ welcome speeches and Carlo Petrini’s inspirational speech about our need to transform the world’s food systems to save our environment, their were moving speeches from representatives of indigenous people from each continent. With international music and each country represented by presentations of their flags organized by continents, the program concluded with a rousing rendition of We Shall Overcome. Rick and I are probably in lots of photos circulating throughout the media because we happened to be sitting behind one of the most photogenic groups – some well-coifed West African women all wearing clothing made from material they produce from the Coca plant.
It was a pretty chaotic atmosphere prior to and after the program as you might imagine with 5000 people newly arrived, most of them arriving by Slow Food buses and leaving that way, with hundreds more (like us) arriving and leaving by taxis or city buses. But no grouches – everyone making the best of the opportunity to talk with each other and share information about their programs, etc. In other words, the typical Slow Food friendly chaos. I’ve included 2 photos I was able to take with my blackberry that will give you an idea of the flavor there: the presentation of the flags and people finding their rides back to their hosts’ homes or hotels. More tomorrow after I figure out the next stage.
The Road to Terra Madre: Truffles and Rain
It’s hard to get a bad meal here – but we were especially lucky to be here at the beginning of truffle season. Our last night at Cannero was the first evening truffles were on the menu at Il Cortile Ristorante, a charming and welcoming place close to our hotel. Who could resist the chance to have a creamy risotto finished with freshly shaved truffle by the gracious owner! Divine…
Now we are in Santa Margherita on the Mediteranean looking out at the rain realizing our good weather karma has deserted us. Fortunately we had the chance to walk around the harbor last night and found our favorite restaurant from 10 years ago was still there with the same owners, walnut sauce, and creamy pesto. Today, I think walking any of the trails along the Cinque Terre is a no go…
The Road to Terra Madre: Farmer’s Market at Lake Maggiore
We are working our way to Terra Madre slowly and circuitously, savoring what Italy has to offer. We started our trip at Lake Maggiore on the Cannero Riviera. Although close to Switzerland it has a mild climate, as evidenced by the abundance of palm trees and the colorful variety of vegetables at Friday’s Farmers’ Market. The robust tomatoes with the deep ridges by the stem pictured here seem to be common to the area although I haven’t seen this variety before – not even at our annual Tomato Day tasting at Morningsun Herb Farm.