Discovering Oval: the World comes to Turin

02 Oct 2012

Unfamiliar scents, unique flavors, products in Turin for the first time ever, original pairings to inspire and excite the taste buds… At the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, the five continents will come together in the Oval, the pavilion where visitors can meet the food community producers and the Slow Food Presidia, chefs from the Terra Madre network and representatives from indigenous groups, all in a spirit of solidarity between the global north and south. 

The pavilion’s green heart will be the huge African food garden, covering 400 square meters, planted with
traditional leafy vegetables, medicinal herbs and plants used to keep away harmful insects. Visitors will see how the soil can be fertilized without chemicals and how fences can be made using natural materials instead of wire and cement. The garden will represent the 25 countries involved in the Thousand Gardens in Africa project, bringing together crops and techniques from different latitudes and seasons that would never exist together in reality. Alongside the garden, an exhibition will display antique agricultural tools, as a reminder of how our grandparents and great-grandparents used to work the land.   width=
There will be plenty of opportunities to satisfy an

appetite for new flavors, with chefs taking turns in the Terra Madre Kitchen and serving up Asian, Middle Eastern, African and Oceanic specialties. Chef Timothy Montgomery of Bacchus restaurant in Newcastle will be organizing an authentic Australian barbecue, welcoming visitors with excellent organic beef and lamb and typical Australian sausages, accompanied by organic wines from the Macquariedale winery. Asia will be represented by dishes from Bhutan and Japan and chefs from indigenous communities from Thailand and India, and Africa by a sweet Algerian couscous called seffa, guinea hen with wild pepper from Madagascar and a typical snack from Burkina Faso, to mention just a few examples.  One special moment will be when Arab-Israeli chef Husam Abas, from the El Babour restaurant in Umm el Fahem near Nazareth, will cook with Palestinian chefs Fatima Kadoumi and Falak Nasser from Nablus, preparing hummus, makluba and other local specialties. The two Palestinian chefs are members of Bait al Karama, a women’s center that helps disadvantaged women reintegrate into society through artistic, cultural and social initiatives, including Palestine’s first all-women cooking school.  

The international Marketplace will also feature typical delicacies from around the world.  width=

The 100-square-meter British Pub will be offering a selection of the best artisanal beers from Scotland and English counties like Cornwall and Yorkshire, as well as ciders and fruit juices, paired with typical British foods like bacon, cheeses and roast beef. 

Local cooks from Poland will be preparing their national dishes using specialties protected by TSG, PDO or PGI designations and organic products. Don’t miss pierogi dumplings and zurek soup, made with ryemeal and meat, served with classic Polish beverages. 

Four thematic journeys—artisanal and mountain cheeses, wines and spirits, culinary and medicinal herbs and preserves—will guide visitors around the Balkans area, to taste the flavors and experience the gastronomic traditions of a peninsula with many shared traits between its various cultures. Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey will be among the countries represented. 

Bright colors and strong scents will characterize the area dedicated to Asian biodiversity, where many different varieties of rice, millet, spices and tubers will be on display. Spices will be the focus of educational workshops for adults and children, describing the fascinating history of the spice trade and their common uses in medicine and the kitchen. The great Indian chef Manjit Singh Gill will be preparing the accompanying dishes. Millet, a grain that could represent food security for the Indian subcontinent, will be another focus, and food communities working to revive its cultivation will be on hand to present their work. ! width=

Wandering around the stalls of the international Marketplace, look out for the special symbol identifying indigenous communities, whose products, traditions and languages represent the ancient knowledge with close links to nature. Many other countries will be surprising visitors with their culinary specialties. Korean food, which has evolved over the course of thousands of years, is characterized by the belief that good food is the best medicine. A demonstration of Buddhist cooking and street food treats will give visitors a taste of South Korea’s flavors.  

Nine of the countries crossed by the legendary Silk Road will be represented at the event: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Traditional products will be on display, and during the conference “Flavors of the East,” on Friday October 26th at 6 pm, researchers from the Marco Polo project will be presenting the results of their study. Over the course of 20,000 kilometers, they analyzed the habits of over 1,000 people to try to understand the correlations between genetics, food preferences and gastronomic traditions. Conference participants will be able to meet representatives from the countries, see photographs from the journey and get to know the communities’ typical products. 

The Latin American stands will be representing the incredible diversity of environments in the continent, from Amazonian rainforests to Andean peaks, from Mexican deserts to the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Visitors will be able to compare the aromatic characteristics of coffee, chocolate, honey and spirits from 20 countries, and meet food communities like the Peruvian women who make café femenino and Presidia producers like the beekeepers who gather honey from Puebla Sierra Norte native bees. Fans of artisanal spirits will be able to sample some otherwise-impossible-to-find products, like organic cachaça from Divinopolis in Brazil, aged in oak barrels for more than two years, and liqueurs made from fruits grown by a women’s cooperative in Montevideo, Uruguay. 

Afterwards it might be time for a little pick-me-up. The café at the Biodiversity House, the space dedicated to   width= the projects run by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, will be serving espresso made from Presidia coffees from Africa and Latin America, like Wild Harenna Forest Coffee from Ethiopia, Huehuetenango Highland Coffee from Guatemala, Camapara Mountain Coffee from Honduras and Robusta Coffee from Uganda. Coffee from the Nilgiri Hills in India will be prepared using the traditional filtering technique. 

The Honey Bar will be making a reappearance at this year’s Salone. Around 100 beekeepers from around the world will be sweetening visitors’ palates with tastings and sensory analysis activities. Meetings and debates will be exploring the world of honey and bees, a litmus test of our biodiversity. Don’t miss the chance to meet the daring honey hunters from the monsoon forests of southern India, who lower themselves down steep cliffs on tree-bark ladders to reach the ledges where wild bees form their combs.  

Two neighboring spaces will be run by the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo Convivium and the Students’ Association (ASSG), who will be organizing many different activities. These range from the by-now traditional Personal Shopper trips, guided tours around the market stalls to discover their secrets, to photo exhibitions, and will culminate in four Eat-Ins, when Terra Madre delegates will be sharing food with visitors. 
The international Marketplace will also include recreations of five Earth Markets, showing how the distance between producers and co-producers can be shortened in both small villages and big cities. Producers will be present from the markets in Tcherny Vit in the Bulgarian mountains; India’s most populous city, Mumbai; Tel Aviv in Israel and Beirut in Lebanon and one of the newest markets to join the network, in Foça, Turkey.  width=

The Slow Fish campaign will offer a space for reflection, open to anyone who wants to learn more about the complex dynamics that govern the global fish industry and what they can do to improve the health of our oceans through small, everyday actions. Fishers, fish processors, marine experts, chefs and representatives from international organizations and Terra Madre communities will be exchanging their experiences and exploring the issues that affect fishing communities around the world, discussing resource management, traceability, direct sales, fishing rights and more. 

The Oval Olympic Arena will also be home to two itinerant exhibitions, in the eastern side of the pavilion. 

Foods That Change the World will use images and interactive experiences to describe the economic and social model of Terra Madre food communities. The exhibition comes to Turin after stops in Tours in France, Bilbao in Spain and Riga in Latvia and has been funded by the European Union as part of the 4Cities4Dev project (, run by Slow Food along with the four European cities. The exhibition has been created using recyclable and ecological materials. 

Expo Móvil is part of the project Los caminos de la excelencia: un viaje por los territorios, conociendo sus productos y sus protagonistas, a partnership between Slow Food and the Desarrollo Territorial e Identidad Cultural program at RIMISP, the Latin American Center for Rural Development, with the contribution of the Ford Foundation. Dynamic and interactive, Expo Móvil will be debuting in Turin, offering a voyage of discovery around ten locations in Latin America, North Africa and Europe where sustainable processes for the promotion and preservation of biodiversity and gastronomic traditions are developing. Divided into four sections, Expo Móvil explores local heritage through flavors, images, music, songs and drama, using taste education activities and moments of reflection to deepen the relationship between producers and the market. The Biodiversity House will be hosting a specific event about this exhibition on Sunday October 28th at 11.30 am. 

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