SLOW FOOD WORLD – Snail Tales

20 Dec 2002

The Slow Food year kicked off in grand style in February with the official inauguration of the Sicilian Presidia, at Medial, the Mediterranean Food Fair in Palermo. Also in February, the German edition of the Italian Wines 2002 guide was presented at the Aktionsforum Praterinsel in Munich, while March saw the publication of the German edition of Osterie d’Italia(Hallwag).

April was a very hectic month. From April 11 to 15, Slow Food took part in ‘Vinitaly’, Italy’s number one wine fair in Verona. When it finished, preparations were already well under way in Bra for ‘Slow Food on Film’ (Aprtil 18-21), the world’s first short film festival dedicated to the love of food. The president of the jury was Vincent Schiavelli, the popular Hollywood character actor (remember the subway ghost in Ghost?), author of cookbooks and co-leader of the Slow Food Los Angeles Convivium, while the winner of the Gold Snail for best film was Peperoni by the Calabrian director Giuseppe Gagliardi.

April also saw the presentation of the Atlante dei prodotti tipici e tradizionali del Sistema Nazionale delle Aree Protette, an atlas of typical traditional food products —from oil to wine, from bread to cheese—from Italy’s 19 National parks and 70 Regional Parks. The book was published by Slow Food in collaboration with Legambiente, the Italian environmental association and Federparchi, the Italian national and regional parks federation. Not that Slow Food’s April activities ended there. In New York, for example, on April 21-22, it staged SuperWhites, the now classic parade of Friulan white wines and local produce, now in its third year. The month concludedwith the publication of Italian Wines 2002 for the English-speaking market.

In 2002, Slow Food Germany celebrated its tenth anniversary. The even was duly commemorated at the German Members’ Congress in Munich from May 3 to 5. Another major German event was the fourth ‘Cheese of the North’ Fair, held in Hamburg on May 26. In the meantime, on May 12-13-14, Slow Food France organized the second Journèe Internationale du Grenache in Châteauneuf-du-Pape to celebrate the grape variety typical of the South of France and Catalonia. Still in May, but this time on the other side of the Atlantic, Slow Food USA staged its Pig Fest—a banquet of pork from animals raised in sustainable conbditions—in Brooklyn, NYC.

From June 7 to 9, an event of great institutional importance—the Slow Food Italy National Congress—was held in Riva del Garda: one of the points which emerged in the discussion was Slow Food’s consolidated international dimension. The following weekend (15-18), the International Governors met in Eisenstadt in Austria’s Burgenland region. Subsequently, from June 19 to 22 , Toni Gomiscek, vice-president of Slow Food International, attended the ‘Haute Cuisine’, week organized in Moscow by the Russian magazine Restorator.

As the summer progressed, so Slow Food began to stage major operations with a view to October’s Salone del Gusto. Special conferences were held all round the world in: Tokyo (June 27 giugno), New York (July 27), Los Angeles (July 30), Milan (September 5), London (Septmeber 13), Amsterdam (September 17), Paris and Munich (September 19), and Rome (October 3).

From August 30 to September 1, the third German Cheese Market was held in Nieheim, while in Iowa City from September 5 to 7, Slow Food Iowa staged ‘From Field To Family’, featuring demonstrations, wine tasting courses, farm tours and a grand gala dinner cooked by local chefs.

Which brings us to October, the big month in the Slow Food calendar. On October 23 , the city of Turin hosted the third Slow Food Award for the Defense of Biodiversity. If you want to find out more about the event and the winners, visit the appropriate section on this site.

The event of the year of course was the Slow Food, held at Turin’s Lingotto Exhibiton center from October 24-28 and described by UK newspaper The Independent as, ‘one of the most comforting experiences the modern world has to offer’. The 2002 edition of the Salone set biodiversity and education as its themes. And spanning the length and breadth of this year’s event, they were everywhere: from the launch of the Foundation for Biodiversity and the International Presidia to the 20,000 students who attended the Taste Workshops, the hundreds of varieties of cheese, salami, wine, fruit, vegetables, sweets, cereals and meats tasted, the 1,400 people who attended the Three Glasses Award tasting and the 1,400 people who joined the movement. During the Salone the new 2003 editions of the Vini d’Italia and Osterie di’Italia guides were presented: now, just two months on, they are both well placed in the specialized bestseller lists.

Then there were the events within the event. At a special conference on October 25, for example, Slow Food president Carlo Petrini officially presented the project for a Foundation for Biodiversity and InternationalPresidiea as a logical offshoot of the Italian national Presidia.

The day after, on Saturday October 26, Cittaslow president Stefano Cimicchi presented the first ever Cittaslow Award for ‘public administrators of cities round the world who have stood out for actions, works or systems inspired by “Slow” practice and philosophy’. The Cittaslow Award 2002 for the ‘Cittaslow administrators’ section went to Roberto Angelucci, mayor of Francavilla al Mare (Chieti), that for the ‘non-Cittaslow administrators’ section, to Bertrand Delanoë, mayor of Paris.

A week later, the whole movement was flattered to receive the first Sicco Mansholt Prize for special merits in the field of sustainable agriculture, and on November 7 Carlo Petrini flew to Brussels to receive the 25,000 euro cheque from Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission. After the prize ceremony, he announced that Slow Food intends to spend the 25,000 euro prize money to fund both its innovative University of Pollenzo/Colorno project and the Foundation for Biodiversity.

On November 17, finally, concluding the Slow Food Governors Committee Meeting in Selvazzano Dentro (Padua), Carlo Petrini declared that ‘Work on the restructuring of Pollenzo are up to schedule and the restaurant and hotel will be operational in 2003. The Wine Bank is already functioning and an advisory committee is busy at work to draw up the University study syllabus. The first academic year in Pollenzo and Colorno will commence in September 2004″.

For Slow Food, 2003 will be another event-packed year, nationally and internationally. It will come to a climax with two major happenings: ‘Cheese 2003’ in Bra (Cuneo), from September 19 to 22 and the Slow Food World Congress at the end of October in Naples, where 800 delegates from five continents will congregate to discuss future strategies (Naples, incidentally, will also be the venue for the fourth Slow Food Award for Biodiversity).

John Irving is the editor of www.slowfood.com

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