Slow Food (and Wine)

Combining the slow foods philosophy and a love for wine, Yonatan Sternberg explores the Salone Del Gusto Festival in Turin, Italy. Certainly a theater of tastes according to his descriptions...

For those foodies among you who have 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 patisserie or focaccerie in the morning. The perfect espresso, the delicious cured and smoked meats, the pasta, the rustic yet delicate sauces, the Barolo wines and so many other addictive treats that bring you back to this boot shaped country time and time again. Well foodies, I have news for you.

Once every two years a celebration of traditional food products from Italy and other locations around the world is held in Turin, Italy. With a name like “Salone Del Gusto” (Theater of Taste), you really cannot go wrong!

Where else can you find such an abundance of delicacies: rich and concentrated 60 year old balsamic vinegar produced in Modena, game meat from Yorkshire, Spanish saffron and jamon, goose and duck liver pate from Perigord, an overwhelming variety of cheeses from around the world through wild Vanilla from Madagascar, unique aged wines and spirits, dozens of rare vegetables sold directly by the growers and 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 Eco-Gastronomic “Slow Foods” movement is responsible for organizing the festival. From the lines above it may sound as if “Slow Food” is a hedonistic movement that is all about self-indulgence? Well, think again.

For those who have not heard of it before, Slow Food is an international eco-gastronomical organization founded in 1989 by Italian journalist, Mr. Carlo Petrini. Slow Food is more than just an organization; it is both a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the conservation of the environment we live in. The members are organized in hundreds of local chapters, or conviviums, worldwide.

While many people believe that Slow Food was founded to oppose fast food, the aims of the organization are actually much different. While members of Slow Food are indeed opposed to fast food on concept, they do not look at McDonalds or Pizza Hut as the enemy. The goal of Slow Food is to oppose the fast track of life, a state brought about through rapid industrialization and modernization. Fast life has led to the disappearance of thousands of unique local gastronomic traditions and food varieties and has completely changed our culinary habits.

This year the organizers also put an extra emphasis on the world of wine, erecting a very impressive Enoteca (wine bar) offering over 3000 wines available by the glass. While the focus was clearly on Italian wines, I also had the opportunity to sample unique vinos from Austria, Germany and France. Adjacent to the Enoteca I also found a hall baring the promising name Banca Del Vino (the bank of wine). This is where the really good wines were served. It is not every day that one has the opportunity to sample Barolo and Barbresco wines from the late eighties and early nineties, aged Austrian ice wines, excellent dessert wines from Hungary and even red wines from Lebanon.

While I do not have time to include tasting notes in this article, since I have to attend a tasting session of German wines from the Mosel starting in fifteen minutes (not that I am complaining), I promise to include information about my amazing and very tasty trip to Italy in my next articles.

Ciao from Turin!