Friday, December 7, 2012

Terra Madre Day 2012

This year we sent 17 Vermonters to Slow Food Terra Madre in Torino, Italy! This was a huge accomplishment filled with gratifying interactions and memorable experiences!

This Terra Madre Day, Monday December 10th, we have 4 events around the state where you can interact with delegates from this, and past years! Check out our events page on our brand new website!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Big Thanks to NECI

What an amazing meal Gene and I were served in Montpelier last night at the NECI dining room. I had the Yak Bolognaise, hand tossed with pasta, two tomato sauce and cheese. There was also a Cassoulet with pork that had been raised by Chef Tim. Tim told us that he was inspired to raise his own pigs after attending Terra Madre in Italy. A Warm Autumn Salad with bitter greens and roasted beets was memorable. There was so much food, all of it special, like Butternut squash roles and a squash ragout. The "to die for" was a dessert of fragrant Pear Clafouti, lightly sweetened with maple creme anglaise. Chef Martha has promised to send me the recipe. To round out the end of the meal, a table was set up with all kinds of milk to taste, and an assortment of chewy cookies. Cheers and gratitude to all the students, teachers and volunteers for such a great meal.

Linda Fialkoff

Friday, October 22, 2010

After a great night’s sleep that helped us recover from jet lag, we (Jen, Joyce, and me—along with about ninety other Terra Madre delegates from the USA), climbed into our buses for the trip to Turin. After about forty-five minutes (rush hour in Italy is not to be missed!) we arrived at the Oval Lingotto, the convention area where we will spend the next two days. As we entered this huge space, we found exhibits of all kinds related to food as well as many artisans and merchants with their goods spread out on rugs and blankets, waiting to show us their wares. I was able to find some coarsely ground corn for polenta and had a wonderful conversation withthe farmer who grew it. There were also about ten tasting event rooms as well as the same number of spaces for presentations. The volunteers with their red vests were everywhere as they were on the opening day ready to help in every way.

I attended one session entitled, Food Policies – Pleasure and Well-Being and part of another entitled, Traditional Knowledge, Gender, and Immaterial Values. I may say more about these workshops in another entry but I want to write about my experiences at the Salone Del Gusto at this moment. This is the parallel event to Terra Madre where connoisseurs and novice food lovers can share in an unbelievable experience of seeing, tasting, and, talking about foods from all over the world.

Never have I been faced with such a vast array of foodstuffs of every kind: cheeses, cured meats, breads, sweets, vegetables, fruits, grains, honey, wine, and more. Exhibitors are organized according to the origin and production of their foods. Many growers and producers represent every region of Italy. Other countries have smaller but equally interesting and delicious displays. Navigating this space is overwhelming, mainly because the foods cover every inch of space and it’s hard to know where to look and taste first.

Among the thousands of foods presented, are just over two hundred that are designated as part of the Slow Food Presidia. These are foods that are exampled of a mode of agriculture based on quality, safeguarding of traditional knowledge, and, sustainability. Included were Orbasso red celery, the Capriglio pepper, and, the Cabinnia cow, all from Italy. Examples from other countries included Kemper Heath sheep (Netherlands), Herenna Forest Wild coffee (Ethiopia), Smilya beans (Bulgaria), and, wild fig slatko, a kind of preserve (Macedonia).

After tasting white anchovies, many olive oils, cheeses with unfamiliar names, grappa, lemon preserves, and so much more, I needed an espresso to keep me going. The Salone del Gusto is open for the next two days so I have much more to explore. Details to follow.

Note: being new to blogging, I was not able to place the photos where I wanted to so I guess I know what to figure out next.

Torino, Terra Madre 2010, Day 2

What an incredible day! There are so many people to meat, oops - I swear I didn't mean to say that (I believe my cellular structure has prosciutto DNA in it now....). Try again; there are so many incredible people to meet here at Terra Madre, amazing speakers, incredible stories, inspiration around every
corner, and so many foods to try, get addicted to, and then realize you'll have to pine for because you'll most likely never taste it again - or at least for a very long time! One of my favorite things about Terra Madre is the focus on Taste Education -
there are stations set up all over the place for you to slip in and interact with - how to detect flavor,
how to hear taste (yep, you read that right!), smell and aroma, textures and the story of the need for biodiversity in our world are all prevalent at Terra Madre. Today was also a day of exploration of the Salone del Gusto - the Hall of Taste. Stall after stall of foods from every region of Italy, and an entire pavilion of
endangered foods from around the world showcased as members of a Slow Food Presidium. It is at once overwhelming, delicious
and inspiring. We meet with our entire USA delegation tomorrow, which I am looking forward to - always interesting to see what the national office is thinking about the future of Slow Food USA. I am offto bed for a well-deserved belly-rest, and to muster strength for the feasting and meetings to commence in the morning! More tomorrow! Ciao!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Torino, Terra Madre 2010, Arrival

24 hours later, or so, I think, and we're here! Travel always throws off the system a bit, and not having slept the night before leaving due to excitement really exaggerates how tired we feel right now; but, you know, there IS something reassuring about feeling a little pain, doesn't seem like you should be able to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in only 7 hours or so without some sort of consequence! Something in me believes that it shouldn't be so easy... BUT we're here, and without incident! Small miracles do happen, our flights are on time, our bags made it through, and with characteristic customs-ham-and-bomb-sniffing-dogs' efficiency, we were through Italian customs before we even knew what happened! Car rental was a breeze and since Spencer enjoys the elastic rules of the road in Italy, in his half-asleep-mostly giddy state got us all to where we needed to be! It is fun to start collecting Terra Madre participants along the way, at each leg of the journey - we make fast and easy friends, reassured by the fact that we're all in this together. I can't believe I am sharing this experience with 5000 other farmers, chefs, producers, activists, educators and students!
First impressions of the organization of Terra Madre are
always so refreshing, our tags with our names already on them are ready for us to wear, spontaneous music erupts from every corner and inspiring words are all shared at the opening ceremonies. The founder of Slow Food, and soul-stirring speaker, Carlo Petrini, shared his vision for the next 4 days, and his hopes for us in our journey through Terra Madre: the farmers, elders, women and natives are the keepers of the stories, traditions, techniques and history of our collective foodways - it is our duty in this generation to not be shy or fearful of learning from these people, or the greatest knowledge base of our food systems will disappear. To that end, Terra Madre is focusing on the dying languages of our native peoples, and invited 4 individual representatives from Australian aborigines, the Gamo (Ethiopia), the Kamchadal (Russia), the Sami (Sweden) and the Guaranì (Brazil) to present the plight of their native people and the importance of preserving their values and traditions for future generations. Carlo was emphatic when he said, “We must have a dialogue between science and traditional knowledge,” he said. “The main holders of this knowledge are native peoples, women, farmers and elders. Not only should they be listened to, but should be at the front line for the challenges this world and the crisis present us. Yet these are the people least considered by politicians and media.” He also talked about the need for Terra Madre, this gathering of 5,000 individuals, and what that means. "Fraternity," he said, "without fraternity there can be no understanding...the value of the meeting, the getting together, the listening to and exchanging of ideas - THAT is the miracle of Terra Madre." And, in a day full of small miracles, it truly does feel like collecting 5000 people from around the globe to come together and talk about our collective responsibility to our food system... well, it does feel like a miracle indeed.

Ready to tackle workshops tomorrow after a long day of travel!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Terra Madre 2010, here we come!

So much has happened since Terra Madre 2008 - Slow Food Vermont has a brand-spankin' new logo, website, facebook page and is twittering up a storm! We have had a great partnership with the Intervale Center and participated in their Summer of Taste for both 2009 and 2010 - a concept which arose from collective experiences at Terra Madre! Slow Food Vermont has successfully launched a taste education series, hosted potlucks, joined work-days at Community Gardens and now has a solid and very active leadership board! I can say with the utmost sincerity that I am thrilled at what will come of our experience at Terra Madre 2010! As always, Vermont has a very strong delegation, with over half of our delegates never having attended Terra Madre before! This is sure to be a journey of sensation, taste, new friendships, and a new-found direction for your personal connection to food. Remember, everyone, it is all about the food, and above all - sharing it with your community! I look forward to traveling with you and telling our collective story along the way!

Monday, November 17, 2008

On our way...

Thanks so much do David Hoene for hosting a great event at Pauline's yesterday!  We had a great time introducing ourselves to each other and sharing our experiences and impresssions from Terra Madre, the Salone del Gusto, and Italy in general!
My favorite part of the evening, however, was at the generous meal that David shared with us and the discussion that ensued around the dining room table.  The meal began with wonderful Boyden Valley Winery wines, apple cider and an amazing variety of our fantastic Vermont cheeses.  The main meal was Shuttleworth Farm pork with wild-crafted mushrooms from Nova & Les, potatoes, squash and brussels sprouts from Lewis Creek Farm and kale from Arethusa Collective Farm.  The dessert was a fantastic cranberry crisp with ice cream - delicious!  The conversation was riveting and important, and, as tends to happen around a dinner table with a bunch of passionate eaters - at times, raucous!
The main question that floated around all evening was, "How will SFVT distinguish itself from all the other fantastic food organizations in Vermont?"  The main points that I heard voiced as possible directions SFVT could go are (apologies for things I missed!):
  1. A focus on food culture and the culture of conviviality should be a central theme - simply getting together with other eaters, creating and enjoying a meal together and taking as long as you'd like to complete that meal.  Gatherings at members' homes for themed potlucks or just a gathering at a local chicken pie supper.  Cheap, easy, and meaningful!
  2. SFVT could have a defined educational arm - food tastings and events focusing on the science of taste (apple tastings, honey tastings, maple syrup tastings, cheese!)
  3. There were a few voices that liked the idea of SFVT distinguishing itself as an organization focusing on the culture of food in Vermont - looking at and educating Vermonters on the foodways that helped to build up our state; maple, dairy, salt pork, etc.  This could also tie into the folks that are already doing "slow food", but don't even know it - the chicken pie suppers are a great example.
  4. There was also the general sense that this organization could have more of an emphasis on the eaters - the co-producers, and their experience.  This does not exclude the producers - Slow Food international recognizes the players as the Producers, the Co-Producers, the Chefs, the Educators, the Academics, and the Youth.  SFVT could as well - but perhaps use the other players as the supporters of the Co-Producers' experience.  
There were also some organizational ideas put forth at the meeting: 
  • There was a lot of enthusiasm for holding a summit of all the food players in the state to define our roles and see how SFVT could fit in.  
  • There was a general consensus that VT needed a lot of chapters that answer to the State chapter (located in Montpelier), and perhaps one meeting a year where all the chapters gather and report on our events.
  • Nova mentioned the creation of a "Snail Trail" that identifies restaurants and farms in the state that subscribe to the tenets of Slow Food, the practices of Good, Clean and Fair food.  The locations would have a sign not unlike the VT Fresh Network sign that would signify to the public that they hold up to those standards.
  • There was also the idea of a panel discussion being held at the NOFA-VT conference this February on Slow Food Vermont - sharing our vision with the public and inviting them to join.
As you can see, there was a ton of discussion and lots of ideas floating around!  I think that it is crucial to keep this dialogue moving and try to distill what we are moving towards as an organization.  As Deb Shapiro from Edible Green Mountains said last night, "Flash forward a year from now - how has SFVT made the world different?"  This is perhaps a guiding thought for us as we move forward.  I welcome comments, corrections, and further ideas!