Theater of Tastes

"It made me proud to see all of the Italian participants licking their fingers as they tasted Daniel Zach’s (Carmela BaNachala) seafood tabouleh…" Yonatan Sternberg watches Israeli chefs do us proud at the international Salone Del Gusto festival hosted by Slow Food in Turin, Italy.

For those foodies among you who've had the pleasure of traveling to Italy, I am sure that you can remember the intoxicating aromas that first strike your nose when you enter the local bakery in the morning, that perfect espresso, and all those flavors and textures that just make you wish you were born Italian (or at least had an Italian mother). Well foodies, I have news for you.

Once every two years a celebration of traditional food stuffs from around the world is held in Turin, Italy and with a name like “Salone Del Gusto” (Theater of Taste), you can’t go wrong.

Where else can you find such an abundance of delicacies, from rich and concentrated 60 year old balsamic vinegar produced in Modena, game meat from Yorkshire, Pesto from Liguria, cheese and dairy products from around the world through wild Vanilla from Madagascar, spices and herbs from Asia and Africa, pink salt from the Himalayans and the list goes on and on.

Side by side in their small booths one can meet with farmers, cheese makers and other artisan producers to have a brief chat about the tricks of the trade and most importantly, sample some of the world's top produce.

The “Salone Del Gusto” is organized by the Eco-Gastronomic movement “Slow food”.
From the lines above it may sound that “Slow Food” is a hedonistic movement that is all about self indulgence, well think again. Founded in 1989 by Mr. Carlo Petrini, “Slow food” is member-supported organization which was established as an anti-thesis to the American fast food culture. The organization decries the disappearance of local food traditions and supports fair trade, use of seasonal produce and aspires to build a bridge between the farmer and the consumer.

Parallel to the “Salone Del Gusto” Slow Food also hosts the “Terra Madre” (mother earth) convention, where farmers, food scientists, growers and other professionals come together in order to share knowledge and hope to have an affect on the food we eat.

As one of the most important culinary events of the year, top chefs from around the world arrive in Turin to display their cooking prowess. Several Israeli chefs were also invited to prepare a meal and participate in a philosophical discussion about the essence of Israeli cuisine.

The panel was led by Israeli artist, Rafram Chadad who along with Dr. Mike Dahan, Professor Aviad Kleinberg, Michal Anski and other participants debated as to whether there is such a thing as “Israeli cuisine.” I was to busy helping the chefs in the kitchen, so I am not sure if they were able to reach a conclusion. What I do know is that it made me proud to see all of the Italian participants licking their fingers as they tasted Daniel Zach’s (Carmela Banachala) seafood tabouleh, Husam Abas’s (El-Babur) lamb and wheat, Elran Shraflar’s (Azura) stuffed eggplant with cinnamon sauce and Moshe Bason’s (Eucalyptus Haktana) stuffed figs in tamarind sauce. As my good friend put it, the only down side to Israeli cuisine is that it is very hard to pair wine with hummus and tahina.

Tip of the week: Wine & Dine
The Golan Heights winery has paired up with chefs Haim Cohen and Dan Kartela to share their passion for food and wine. The events will be held at the “Dixie” restaurant in Tel Aviv, where the chefs are preparing a special menu to go with a tasting of various Golan Heights wines. (Until 1/12)

Second and third photo on right courtesy of Slow Food Archices, Photo Milanesio