Cheese 2007 hosted several Eastern European cheesemakers in a special edition of the event, Welcome to Europe. The occasion provided them the opportunity to participate in Taste Workshops and to attend conferences where they could meet other industry experts. During four days they showcased their products at individual stands for an international audience of curious visitors. The publicity drew considerable attention toward many of the issues that these producers and breeders face in their own countries.
The gathering also served as a reunion for the expanding Terra Madre Network of food communities. Beginning with the first edition of Terra Madre in 2004, a delegate from Bulgaria, Dessislava Dimitrova, started collaborating with Slow Food to help local producers. She later returned to Turin again in 2006 as the national coordinator, this time accompanied a community of Smiylan Cheesemakers as well. Cooperative efforts increased and Slow Food representatives visited Bulgaria in June 2007 to see the production of the products and meet more members of the community. Based on links to the region in historical, social and cultural terms, five communities where then invited to Bra in September for the event.
With constant demand and interest for their products, the Bulgarian communities of Smilyan breeders, cheesemakers, and yogurt producers; Karakachan Nomadic breeders; Rakita Krokmach producers; and the Tcherni Vit Blue Cheese Presidium became a main attraction during Cheese 2007. They were approached by foreign journalists and even participated in live television interviews. Excitingly connections were made between the Tcherni Vit Blue Cheese producers and other European producers of blue cheese. They exchanged ideas and contact information while offering tastes of their cheeses to each other.
As the event concluded, Slow Food representatives met with the communities to discuss future collaborative efforts in hopes of continued improvement back home for those involved in sustainable food production and distribution. The communities expressed their gratitude by offering a donation to Terra Madre activities, a gesture that further strengthened the ties between the two and symbolized the reciprocity of future efforts.
To contact the Bulgarian communities:
National Terra Madre Coordinator
Mail: [email protected]