My obsession with the Slow Food Movement and the Italian lifestyle may have started when I took my first trip to Italy in 2001. The minute I stepped off the airplane, I felt like I was coming home to my people. I loved everything about the Italian lifestyle: the slow, leisurely meals, the reverence for the land and the use of simple, wholesome ingredients, and, oh yes, the taste of the food and wine. Needless to say…
When I learned about Slow Food, which embodies these same Italian values, it struck a chord in me.
Thanks to my Italian grandmother, my obsession with Slow Food may have begun in childhood. When I was 15, my grandmother took me to Boston’s North End to meet my Italian relatives. It was then that the love of everything Italian was born, along with the sensual pleasures of a meal prepared with love. My Italian aunts made classics like Eggplant Parmesan, cannelloni and spaghetti with ragu.
When I became a mother, my passion for preparing wholesome food deepened. I began toying with vegetarianism. This fits my rebellious nature and my annoying habit of questioning everything. Most likely my interest with the Slow Food Movement then was a natural outgrowth of my sense of responsibility to the earth and all of her inhabitants.
The next logical step was to join Laguna Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm where we could get local, organic vegetables in season. Each week my family would receive a box of local produce, including broccoli rabe, parsnips, and delicata squash. I had never heard of some of these vegetables but soon learned how to cook and appreciate them. When my son was young, he and I volunteered at the farm, and he learned where carrots and lettuce came from. As we worked in the fields, we heard a steady hum and buzz of beneficial insects and experienced a true organic farm. My son and I developed an appreciation for local, organic food. We experienced the Slow Food lifestyle before we even knew the name.
If you’re not familiar with the Slow Food Movement, it comprises many aspects of food production throughout the world. Some of the projects include Slow Fish and Ark of Taste which seek to revitalize food crops that are endangered. Since 2002, Alice Waters, of Chez Pannisse fame, was the vice president of Slow Food International. Her influence in the movement is profound. In addition to creating Chez Panisse, one of the first restaurants to highlight local, sustainable agriculture, she started the Edible Schoolyard project in Berkeley California. She worked with the school principal to start a school garden and a teaching kitchen. Now…
Cooking and gardening are now part of the curriculum in schools around the world.
Just like Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food, I want to hold a high standard for the food industry. In accordance with the Slow Food Movement, eating should be “good, clean, and fair,” and while we’re at it, joyous and sensual. My goal is to spend time in Italy, eat everything, and pay attention to how ingredients are sourced. I long to share information, stories and recipes with you, my faithful readers, so together, we will become drenched in the slow, Italian life.