Friday, December 26, 2008

Letter from Terra Madre

Crowded into the event center in Torino, where slow food international holds a conference every two years, were farmers, educators, and chefs, and interested participants. Part of the fun of Terra Madre was to see all the many variations of African fabrics alluringly worn by tall beautiful women, and the great variety of headgear worn by South Americans and small ethnic groups from around the world. One could spend hours walking about and asking about the different items brought from near and far. Workshops continued throughout the day. They provided a welcome respite for tired feet. Mostly the workshops were continuations and follow-ups to online discussions. Because of technical problems added to the lack of an interesting presentation my choice was easy. I was off to the Salone Del Gusto to sample preserved pork products from different regions of Italy. The Salone was very crowded but somehow this added to the fun of pushing through the crowds to grab a piece of salame. Besides pork there were many cheeses, chocolates, panfortes, jams, olive oils, etc. Displays of different beans, lentils, pastas, could be bought as well as cooked foods for immediate consumption. The Enoteca (having to do with wine) required an extra fee but once inside for a few dollars you could taste some very special wine, beer or spirits. The problem was deciding from 2000 different bottles.

What impressed me the most was the growing network of Americans developing,
7000 of the 85000 participants
were from the United States. Slowfood
is influencing people, producers
and consumers, all over the country.
This is truly an amazing development.
On our bus and in the same hotel were Americans from the east coast, west coast, and places in the middle; I spent most (but not all) of my time with this lively and interesting group. While waiting in the long line for lunch I would find out who was standing in front and behind me in line. On one memorable day an Australian woman was waiting ahead of me, and behind was a man from Kenya. “You know Kenya,” he said, “it is the home of Obama’s father”. The lunch line moved far too quickly that day.
Mary Ennes Lentzner, Torino, Italy, October 2008