Taste of the Presidia

31 Oct 2010

The 910 exhibitors at the Salone del Gusto last weekend in Turin – an international fair of small-scale food producers from around the world organized by Slow Food – included 182 Italian Presidia and 106 international Presidia from 46 countries: projects to support products at risk of extinction, which use traditional processing and/or agricultural methods and safeguard native breeds and local plant varieties. The Slow Food UK team was in Italy for the event, and decided to share their favorites among the interesting range of Presidia foods. 

Pokot Ash yoghurt from district of West Pokot in Kenya was a real treat and is a recent addition to the international Presidia. It tasted really thick and creamy, with a slightly bitter, aromatic flavour, which was strangely more-ish. The raw milk comes from either goats or cattle herded by the indigenous communities. Ash, produced from the burning branches of the native cromwo tree, is added to the yoghurt to help preserve it, and this creates a slightly odd, speckled bright grey colour. I was told that locally Pokot Ash yoghurt is a valuable traditional foodstuff for treating urinary infections.” 

Jen Marsden, Communications Coordinator 

“The Kempen Heath parma ‘lamb’ (cured as opposed to cooked or raw) from Holland caught my eye as they feed on heather much like our black face ewes at home in the UK. True to their grazing habits the meat tasted delicious and slightly sweet.” 

Alice Murray (née Dickie), Events & Partnerships Coordinator 

“As a beekeeper I was keen to taste the two Presidium honeys from Ethiopia – Wukro White Honey from the northern Tigrai region close to the famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibella has a long, slightly bitter aftertaste. The Wenchi Honey, by contrast, comes from the Oromia region west of Addis Ababa and is a rich dark golden colour with a mild, roasted caramel flavour. Both are unlike any other honeys I have tasted, though the real privilege was to meet the producers themselves who through the Presidium projects are becoming more economically stable.” 

Sue Braithwaite, Chair of UK Ark

“I’m a bit of a pulses and legumes fan. I’ve even made chocolate brownies out of chickpeas before, so the chance to try the Saint-Flour Golden Lentil – a Presidium product from the region of Auvergne, France – was pretty exciting. As farmers switched to hay and silage in the 60s to support the increasing milk industry the lentils almost disappeared until a small group of producers started to grow them again in 1997. And now they even make them into JAM!” 

Laura Billings, Membership & Groups Development Director 

“It would be difficult to imagine Italian cuisine without tomatoes but Pomodori Fiaschetto are much more than normal tomatoes! They are the quintessence of the place where they grow, Torre Guaceto, a nature reserve and protected area in Puglia, so while the rest of the surrounding coastline is now home to countless bars, restaurants and hotels, this patch of sand, sea and rich soil has remained blissfully free from development. They are sweet, with a gently tangy flavor, beautifully kissed by the sun. They are good in salads and absolutely perfect for pasta sauces.” 

Antonietta Rosiello, Membership Manager 

“As soon as I saw the Malaysian Rimbas Black Peppercorn producers at the Salone del Gusto I recognised them, as we have a picture of them hanging up in the Slow Food UK national office bathroom! Once I made this connection I had to buy the peppercorns. The pepper grains are collected by the 12 native Ibans families who live in the village of Babu Sedeba and are washed in water and left to dry in the sun.” 

Ed Billins, The Taste Adventure Coordinator 

“Whilst at the Youth Food Movement “Identities and Globalization of Diversity” workshop I learnt about Brazilian Guarana, grown by the Satere Mawe indigenous people of Brazil. The natural energizing properties of the Guarana really works – I know, I was bouncing for hours – and the profits from the production go to the creation and running of an Indigenous University in Brazil. The Presidia status of the product means that not only the tradition of its production is preserved but also the traditional culture of the Satere Mawe people, the biodiversity of their environment and building a sustainable future for their children.” 

Ria Jackson, Slow Food on Campus & Youth Coordinator 

“I tried lots of food (and I mean lots!), but one of the most interesting for me, given my Polish heritage, was a Polish cheese called Oscypek that I had never heard of before. It’s a smoked, hard sheep’s cheese that is handmade and rolled around a wooden press that is unique to each producer. It looks so good it was almost a shame to eat it, but of course I did and it was amazing, particularly when slices were fried and served with a sweet jam – heavenly.”
Michelle Binieda, Executive Administrator 

“I am a total fan of dates – a regular in our family Christmas stockings! – but I never knew there were so many varieties or they could be so very juicy and so extraordinarily delicious. I bought a box of Talis dates grown at the Al Jufrah oases in north-central Libya, which have served as a crossroads for the caravan routes and while not a Presidia, they are part of Slow Food’s biodiversity program. This area is famous for its immense biodiversity of dates with over 400 varieties, and has an extraordinary heritage with centuries of history, still carefully preserved by today’s farmers. I am trying to limit the number I eat every day so that I can continue to enjoy their exquisite taste for longer – but they are hard to resist!” 

Rhonda Smith, Programs Director 

To find out more about the 300 Presidia projects supported by the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity, visit the website:

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