“Slow Food unites the pleasures of food with responsibility, sustainability, and harmony with nature.”(Carlo Petrini, Founder of Slow Food)
Slow Food for me is appreciating food in all its diversity. It is discovering regional cuisines and local ingredients. Raising a child to know the chicken, not the nuggets. Favoring individual chef-owner restaurants where the cooking is good and done with passion. It is a good wine, a microbrew beer, a signature cocktail. It is crusty great-smelling bread, artisan cheese, traditional charcuterie, and the ripe freshness of seasonal, local produce. It is always cooking fresh food at home (I believe the buzzword is “real food”), and taking time to enjoy food together. Slow is more than food. Slow is an unhurried lifestyle, even if you are in a rush. It means taking time for things and someones that matter to you. Slow is setting your alarm to watch the moon be eclipsed in a red-hued shadow, even if you have an early rise the next day. Slow is living the dream, when the dream is to cherish the life you live.
I thought about what Slow Food is to me after I watched a documentary. Slow Food Story: A 25 Year Gastronomic Revolution. It follows Slow Food founder and visionary Carlo Petrini in his mission to preserve local food traditions and gastronomic culture against the onslaught of fast food and associated “eat and run” lifestyle. Since 1989, when the first Slow Food Manifesto was signed by delegates from all over the world, Slow Food developed into a healthy and growing international, multi-tiered network comprising Slow Food, Terra Madre, Slow Food Youth, and the University of Gastronomic Science, and has more than 150,000 members in over 150 countries. Its numerous local chapters link the global mission to support good, clean and fair back to a local, community-based level.
I became a member of Slow Food after I visited Bra in 2007. A mutual friend had suggested I should meet her friend, who worked for Slow Food. She showed us around the office, and we went to have lunch in the first Slow restaurant: Osteria del Boccondivino. The food was good, fresh, and well-prepared, and I fell in love with the concept of a “slow restaurant”: when you see the “slow snail” on a restaurant door, you know you will find good, clean, and fair food rooted in the chef’s culinary heritage and/or local gastronomic traditions.
End of October is a wonderful time to visit the Langhe, gastronomic region in Piedmont. It is the season of unique and unforgettable aromas: the enigmatic scent of white truffle, the smell of fermented must of nebbiolo grapes, the wind of toasted hazelnut. The Langhe is also the cradle of Slow Food, born in the town of Bra. Once every two years in October in Turin, Slow Food holds its international Food Fair SALONE DEL GUSTO. I visited the food fair in 2012 for its full five days, joining various taste workshops. And again last October, 2014.
Since I moved to Houston in September 2013, I switched my membership to Slow Food USA, and joined Slow Food Houston as board member. Slow Food Houston (SFH) is liaised directly with Slow Food USA, which has 170 (and counting) local chapters throughout the US, as well as a strong national Slow Food’s Youth Network. The best kind of investment in a good food future, after all, is to educate today’s young.