A delegation of 4 members from the Seacoast food community participated in Terra Madre last month, the bi-annual conference hosted by Slow Food. This year, the international gathering included Jean Pauly-Jennings from Meadows Mirth Farm in Stratham, John Forti, curator of HIstoric Landscapes at Strawbery Banke, Chef Evan Mallett from Black Trumpet Bistro, and Sara Hartley, a student in the Eco-Gastronomy program at UNH. Rachel Forrest at Seacoastonline.com spoke with them about their experiences:
Slow Food delegates bring back ideas, values from conference in Italy
A farmer, a chef, a horticultural curator and a student flew to Torino, Italy, last month to be a part of Terra Madre, a bi-annual conference held from Oct. 21 to Oct. 25 that began in 2004, a conference that brings more than 5,000 representatives from 160 countries together to discuss and introduce innovative concepts in the field of food, gastronomy, globalization and economics.
Naturally, they also tasted plenty of food.
The discussion also included their reflections on the question, “What did they bring back to the community?”:
Jean: I brought some beans back to try to grow some new varieties to see what happens. What was the most compelling thing for me was these beans are three different varieties from three different villages and they’re all white beans that took on a character all their own because of where they grew. There was always the same question there — How do we make local food viable and affordable for everyone? It’s on everyone’s radar and it’s not going to get solved right away. Our food needs to be “Good, Clean, Fair and Ethical.” That’s a good foundation for moving forward.
John: We need to create the list of things that grow from our region and bring it back and help people grow the food in their back yard. The variety of things going on in people’s back yards from so many cultures. There are kumquats growing in yards in Italy, they just pull it out of their yards. We can do that. Maybe not kumquats but so many things.
Evan: One of the things I got out of it was looking at sustainable fisheries worldwide. Bringing in diversity is important to me as a chef. I want to play with as many kinds of food as possible but there are some fish I should not be playing with because they’re endangered. Fish native to Europe are going to Japan and there’s none left locally. In some places, 100 percent of the catch is going thousands of miles away and in these small European towns, they get packaged fish from Alaska to eat. There are thousands of species of edible fish in the Mediterranean Sea and only eight of them are consumed as staples in Italy.
As a chef, my approach to my menu now is that I’d like to prepare fish that people are afraid to eat and help them eat it, get people into the habit of eating it and help increase the biodiversity. If I say, “Sorry we don’t have cod today,” the customer needs to be able to say, “We get that” and try something new, whatever nature deals you.
To read article at Seacoastonline.com >