From Megan Giffen, Toronto Convivium
I began my Salone Del Gusto Terra Madre journey filled with excitement, a sense of nervousness and anxiety. I was excited to try new flavours and meet like minded people, nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and anxious that I hadn’t done enough or known enough to be there. Little did I know the next five days would be a constant tidal wave of inspiration. My taste buds were in heaven. I was privy to tasting fresh in season white truffles, cheese aged in a cave in Slovenia, Jang (a Korean soy cure all) fermented by Korean monks, a six course meal made by six aspiring female chefs who each thoughtfully crafted dishes that explained their life stories.
Image: Happy Pigs tasting workshop where farmers talked about different raisings of pigs. Included: Black pigs from France that only ate chestnuts, pigs from Spain that only ate acorns, pigs from Germany that lived with symbiotic farming, so all different animals living in the same space.
I experienced food as an art, food as spirituality, food as tradition, food as politics, celebration and medicine. Medicine not only for our own bodies, but for the earth, the animals and social problems. All of these medicines involved the art of putting time, love, passion, and traditional methods into our food, to create real, great, slow food.
Learning about different initiatives around the world from 10,000 gardens in Africa, to urban bee keepers in Amsterdam, to fights against GMOs in Mexico, to youth soup discos in Germany has motivated me to be more aware of Toronto initiatives and get involved in them and promote them by word of mouth.
Image: a honey tasting – Amsterdam convivium
The most important thing I learned on this journey was that slow food is not a club. Firstly, it is for everyone, because everyone is a daily participator in our food system. But most importantly it is a movement created by like-minded people all striving towards the same goal. Putting a name on the movement helps create an easily accessible network of producers, chefs, and good old food lovers. This network helps to inspire and motivate us as we move towards our goal; everyone deserves the right to good, clean, fair, slow food.
On the first day of the conference all the delegates received a little notebook that had “I have a dream…” inscribed on the first page. At the beginning of the week I started to him and haw over what my dream was. By the end of the five day tidal wave of inspiration it was so simple. “My dream is to create a meal that has been nourished into existence by me. Seed to plant to fruit to kitchen to table.” I will continue to work towards this dream by being very involved in the world of slow food. I started off the week with a list of subjects that sparked my interest and ended with having a list of concrete activities and contacts to help these food dreams become realities, including apprenticing on a heritage and organic farm in Canada to wild foraging in Greece. I am so proud to be a part of this ever expanding, positive, loving slow food movement.