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Archive for the 'Slow Food' Category

A Book to Read

Sunday, April 1st, 2007

I am just finishing Heat by Bill Buford. One of the best ‘insider’ stories on food, cooking and restaurants.

I want to pass on a quote from the end of the book that I think is a great take on ‘Slow’:

“My theory is one of smallness. Smallness is now my measure: a variation on all the phrases I’d been hearing, like the Maestro’s “it’s not in the breed but the breeding” or Enrico’s “less is more.” As theories go mine is pretty crude. Small food - good. Big food - bad. For me, the language we use to talk about modern food isn’t quite accurate or at least doesn’t account for how this Italian valley has taught me to think. The metaphor is usually one of speed: fast food has ruined our culture; slow food will save it (and is the rallying manifesto for the movement of the same name, based in Bra, in northern Italy)…….But it obscures a fundamental problem, which has little to do with speed and everything to do with size……..The problem was already in place, systemic in fact, and began the moment food was treated like an inanimate object - like any other commodity - that could be manufactured in increasing numbers to satisfy a market. In effect, the two essential players in the food chain ( those who make food and those who buy it) swapped roles. One moment the producer (the guy who knew his cows or the the woman who prepared culatello only in January….) determined what was available and how it was made. The next moment it was the consumer……”Heat - Bill Buford 2006

I think this idea is most profound. It points the way to a better ‘table’. Let the season and the producer guide you in what you eat. Go to the local tailgate this year and see what’s there - then decide what you are going to cook and what you are going to eat.

Read the book. As a chef and a passionate devotee of food, it is one of the best I’ve read.

Joyful dining - Mark

A Radical Idealist - Vandana Shiva

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

I probably asked more questions than I have answers.

I do know my own personal method of answering those questions is to find the simpliest approach to complex ideas. At least, that is the direction I have been heading and certainly applies to how I handle food.

There have been a number questions rattling around in my head since I attended Terra Madre in Turin, Italy last November. Terra Madre is a bi-annual convention of food producers around the world. At it’s second incarnation in 2006, 1000 chefs from around the globe were invited to attend along with 5000 producers and 500 educators.

At this conference, I heard Vandan Shiva speak. She left me with many radical questions about food - the “rights” of food and the “rights” of seed. Of particular note and deep impression was the idea of corporate ownership of the “invention” of life.

Additionally, at the closing session of the conference, she spoke emotionally about the destruction of the freedoms of farmers to grow food and the impact the loss of that freedom is having.

On Greenbean Radio, there is a link to her speach and to two documents: The Manifesto of Food and The Manifesto of Seed that are worthy of attention and your comments.

The simple answer I find, eat seasonally, buy locally, walk lightly.

Being “Slow”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

At it’s most basic, I think of being “slow” as the preservation of Taste. The foods that cross our lips determine so much of who we are and who we have been and who we will become.

Until very recently, food has always been at the very center of culture and life. With the industrialization of food and the rapid pace of life the importance of the table has shifted. Slow Food is a response to that shift. I quote from a recent article in Slow entitled Complexity, Chaos and Love written by Cinzia Scaffidi: ” …think of Slow Food as a cultural movement defending the heritage of people’s material culture…” .

In a broader sense the Slow Food movement embraces these ideals:

The stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production
The revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and community
The invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions

At the local level here in Asheville there is a group of some 400 interested individuals sharing their stories and heritage, tasting local foods and sharing their community of the table. We have a Convivium, our form of “organization”, which you can find out more at