Preserving Figs and a Gastronomic Heritage

02 Jul 2010

A wild fig preserve, whose traditional recipe remains in the hands of only a few women, becomes the latest product to join the Slow Food Presidia – a project set up to sustain quality production at risk of extinction. The Wild Fig Slatko Presidium is the first presidium to be created in Macedonia, a country in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula that for centuries has been a crossroad of people, religions and cultures, and is now a hidden treasure of gastronomic and cultural traditions.

In the area where slatko has traditionally been made, village men harvest the fruit from wild trees, while the women engage in the long and laborious preparation of preserves, transforming the otherwise-inedible fruit into high-quality slatko. With the exception of very small quantities sold through word of mouth, wild fig slatko is not found on the market but made only at home for friends and family.

Macedonia does not yet have legislation to protect typical products such as this, and the producers are currently not able to acquire certification to legally sell the preserves. The aim of the Presidium is therefore to sustain this cultural and gastronomic heritage by helping the Presidium members turn the slatko from a home-made delicacy for domestic consumption into a quality artisanal product, and eventually obtain the certification needed to sell the product.

The first step in creating the Presidium was organizing an exchange of experiences with the Pozegaca Plum Slatko Presidium in Bosnia, which deals not only with a very similar product, but also in a similar context with similar challenges. In April, Presidium coordinator Jasmina Sahovic visited the Macedonian producers, sharing with them the producers’ experiences over the past few years, and demonstrating the growing solidity of the Terra Madre Balkans network, which will hold its first regional Terra Madre meeting in Sofia next month.

With the help of the Slow Food Sharplaninska, Mavrovo-Rostushe convivium, which has been instrumental in the creation of the project, Presidium members will soon establish a production protocol, set up a production workshop that conforms to current legislation, design suitable packaging and promote the product. The Presidium will also participate in the Terra Madre world meeting of food communities in October this year and will have a stand in the area dedicated to the Balkans at the Salone del Gusto.

For more information:
Michele Rumiz
[email protected]

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