Friday, November 07, 2008

Savoring Slow Food at Terra Madre

The fried calamari, the honey, the chocolate, the raw milk, the beers, the preserved fruits and olives and bread dipped in olive oil. The gelato! The canollis:

It was intense, this huge amount of food and people. We were very grateful that first day at the Salon de Gusto, having not slept the night before (well, me) in anticipation of a 4:30a.m. wake up call to make our flight to Turin from Brussels, and having dragged our luggage around for hours, to find these clever chairs, made from rolled up old newspapers.A few days later we would discover the most important section of the food booths - the "presidio", a large area set aside for rare, sustainably produced foods. These foods had to pass a rigorous set of guidelines in order to receive the presidio label. Each of these booths had a banner (one in English next to the one in Italian) describing the area where it was produced and giving detailed information about its production. There were amazing foods - like the raspberry sized strawberries that are only ripe for ten days a year. After being given a shot of the grappa , La Grappa di Susanna, produced with these strawberries, we couldn't resist buying a small bottle to share with family at Christmas.

Another fascinating food was a sweetener that grows in vine-like tenticles from an Italian tree. I wish that I had more information about these icycle-like, good for diabetics sugar, but the smiling Italian men who harvested it didn't speak any English. We brought home a bag of these, as well as a jar of dark, small, intensely sweet plums, Cannelloni beans, Quinoa from Peru, dried olives, an African cereal grain, and Sicilian honey. We also brought back beautiful fava beans and a strong, pink colored garlic - to plant.

Some of our treasures:And some North American Slow Food Presidia information.

I wished we could have brought back the seeds of these Italian tomatoes. They are cultivated in volcanic rich soil, which we will never come close to recreating, and they hang in kitchens (which are much less humid than ours in the south) where the tomatoes stay good for weeks!We ate a lot of cheese samples. This is a Parmigiano that we saw in the Salon de Gusto food fair:

Hanging Buffalo Mozzarellas:I discovered a new favorite - Pecorino Cheese.
The part of Italy where we were is part of the Piedmont Region. They are known for their meats. There were hundreds of cured meats. I think we may have sampled them all.


This was an entire room of hanging proscuitto at the Salon de Gusto.
And then, at night, we were all treated to a four course meal at all of our hotels or bed and breakfasts or hosts' homes. I don't know about everybody's situation, but our hotel dinner was accompanied by as many bottles of red wine as we wanted. These were slooow meals with great conversation with fellow farmers, and a ridiculously generous and jovial hotel staff looking after us, in a village called Benne Vagienna. But that is for another post. I need to go drink some water after thinking about all that meat.


kelli said...

oh my gosh... my mouth is watering and I got chills when the music started.
That Cheese! thank goodness I had some brie tonight :)

I'm so happy for you that you got to go, you guys deserved it!

mindy said...

Wow. What an adventure. I am so happy you got to enjoy all that amazing food, company, and wine :)