From Italy and beyond, over 100 examples of good, clean and fair food production will be showcased at the Parco Dora from September 22 to 26
The 14th edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, to be held in Parco Dora in Turin from September 22 to 26, will see the debut of 13 new Italian Presidia. They will join the extraordinary wealth of biodiversity already protected by Slow Food and will be presented alongside other historic international Presidia, such as those for France’s natural Breton oysters, the traditional fishers from the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands, Jiloca saffron and Ballobar capers from Aragon in northeast Spain and raw-milk cheeses from Ireland.
Slow Food has always placed the defense of biodiversity at the center of its projects, with the aim of protecting the extraordinary riches of our planet. It was in Italy, home to an abundance of artisanal foods, traditional production techniques, native varieties and unique rural landscapes, that in 1999 the association launched what would become one of its most important tools: the Slow Food Presidia. These projects support small-scale, traditional food production at risk of disappearance, promoting local areas, reviving ancient crafts and processing techniques and saving native livestock breeds and fruit and vegetable varieties from extinction. Today there are over 600 Presidia in 79 countries (with over 350 in Italy alone) and they involve thousands of producers.
This year, six Italian regions will be bringing new Presidia to the event: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lazio, Campania, Calabria, Sicily and Puglia. Here are some of their stories, each one embodying rebirth and resilience.
Lazio Presents the Magnificent Mosciarella
As well as seeing the official launch of a network of Italian chestnut-growers, Terra Madre will also be hosting for the first time the Capranica Prenestina Mosciarella Presidium, located around 50 kilometers east of Rome. Mosciarella is not the name of a chestnut variety, but the product obtained from drying the nuts, a long procedure but one that is essential to preserving the chestnuts for the cold winter that comes quickly in these parts, high up at altitudes over 900 meters. The typical process takes place in little stone huts (casette) built in the woods, in which pruned chestnut branches and the spulla (last year’s chestnut shells) are burned. The smoke and heat dry out the fresh chestnuts while giving them a delicate smokiness.
Sicily: A Powerhouse of Biodiversity
The island region is already home to over 50 Slow Food Presidia; the latest to be established is found in Tortorici, a town of 6,000 inhabitants in the province of Messina known primarily for its hazelnut trees, including many local ecotypes, which grow on the slopes of the Nebrodi mountains. The Presidium protects Tortorici’s pasta reale, a sweet made from just three ingredients: water sugar and hazelnuts. Flat and irregular, the unusually shaped cookies have a bulge in the middle that forms during baking, as the sugar melts and the dough “bursts.” There is no one official recipe, but how the toasted hazelnuts are chopped is key to making the cookies properly.
Another Presidium for a Sicilian sweet with just a few ingredients is Alia Scattata. The mountain town of Alia southeast of Palermo is known for scattata, another cookie-like sweet, this one made with only almonds, water and Maiorca flour, ground from an ancient wheat still grown in the Madonie area. It is said that no two scattata look alike. The traditional recipe, typically prepared for holidays, dates back to the early years of the 1900s and continues to be passed down through the generations. The Presidium’s main objective is to promote this artisanal sweet, as well as involving and strengthening the agricultural and rural fabric of the area, starting from Maiorca wheat cultivation and the local almond groves, both of which are under threat.
Grown in the area around Agrigento, on the south coast, the Licata Buttiglieddru is a cherry tomato whose shape resembles a bottle, hence its name. But its true uniqueness comes from its cultivation. Sown in December, the tomatoes ripen at the end of May and are grown relying on beneficial insects instead of pesticides. Excellent fresh, due to its sweetness, the Buttiglieddru tomato also has a long tradition of being pureed into passata, chopped and preserved or dried. The Presidium now unites around ten producers who have signed up to a strict production protocol that specifies the self-production of seeds, no weed-killing and sowing in open fields.
A Journey Through Friuli-Venezia Giulia From the Karst to the Alps
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is bringing two new Presidia to Terra Madre, both launched this year in the easternmost region of the Alpine arc. One is Carso Marasca Honey, for a honey obtained from the nectar of mahaleb cherry blossoms, a variety that grows wild on the carbonic substrate of the Karst plateau around Trieste and Gorizia. Its brief flowering, which takes place earlier closer to the sea, produces an amber-colored honey with a delicate aroma and a subtle bitter aftertaste that recalls almonds.
From the Karst plateau we move up into the Alps for Pestìth, which depending on the place can also be called pestìç, pestìth, pestìf or pastìç. Whatever the name, it is made from a variety of purple-collared turnip that grows in even the coldest and shadiest mountain zones. Harvested in autumn, the turnips are left to macerate and ferment until Christmas, when they are washed and pounded before being sautéed in oil or butter with onions, salt and pepper.
Puglia’s Wealth of Seafood, Sweets and BreadsThe black mussels of Taranto are a new Slow Food Presidium with a great weight of significance, symbolizing not just a recognition that challenges the prejudices that for years have afflicted the Puglian city, primarily for environmental reasons, but also the rebirth of a community whose historical origins lie in mussel cultivation. Over 20 mussel growers have joined the project, which has established a production protocol for the farmed Taranto black mussels that ensures traceability, product quality and respect for the marine ecosystem. Thanks to collaboration with scientific partners such as the CNR and technical partners like Novamont, the producers who belong to the Presidium now use eco-sustainable, compostable materials produced from Mater-Bi.
Also from the province of Taranto, from Manduria, comes the Colombino Presidium, for a pastry traditionally baked for holiday feasts. Only a few local bakers still follow the recipe for this little cake which has two layers of puff pastry filled with orange-flavored almond paste and pastry cream, covered in a soft meringue glaze made with sugar, egg white and lemon and decorated with the shape of a dove (colomba in Italian) in apricot jam. The pastries are typically paired with a glass of Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale wine.
Over in Brindisi, another sweet, the Francavilla Fontana confetto riccio, is linked to rituals that take place on the two Thursdays before Shrove Tuesday. The confetti are made from rounded local almond varieties, mostly Tondina but also Catuccia, Spappacarnale and Carluccio, as well as sugar and lemon. The preparation involves first toasting the almonds inside a conca, a low, round, wide copper pan heated to a constant temperature and moved with a wave-like rhythm by the producer. The heat is then lowered and a syrup made from hot water, sugar and a little lemon juice, called lu gilueppu, is poured into the pan in order to coat the almonds with an uneven coat of sugar.
Sammichele di Bari focaccia a libro is a circular focaccia with a crisp, browned crust and a soft white crumb. The name comes from the process of closing the dough like a book (libro in Italian), after it has been seasoned with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and oregano. After being closed on itself the dough is rolled up in a spiral before baking. Known as fecazze a livre in the local dialect, the bread typically makes the most of “poor” and simple ingredients: flour from regional varieties of soft wheat like Maiorca, Risciola and Bianchetta, grown locally; salt from the nearby Margherita di Savoia salt pans; extra-virgin olive oil pressed in local mills from the Ogliarola Barese cultivar; wild oregano gathered from uncultivated, arid, sun-soaked land; and sourdough leavening made from the previous dough.
Another bread from Puglia comes from Monte Sant’Angelo. Made from soft wheat flour, it is round and large, sometimes very large. In the past, families would buy bread just once a week, and the loaves could weigh as much as 12 kilos. An unusual characteristic of the bakeries in this Gargano town is that the bakers would typically display their bread outside, sometimes hanging it from the wall. The bread is still baked in very old ovens with refractory stone chambers, which are always left on except for Christmas and New Year’s Day. The bread is made only with sourdough leavening, which is fed with enough flour every day for that day’s baking.
A Unique Legume from Calabria
The White Poverello Bean Presidium protects a legume with excellent nutritional properties, historically considered “the meat of the poor” due to its rich protein content. It is grown in the province of Cosenza, inside the Pollino National Park, in three areas: Mormanno, Laino Castello and Laino Borgo. The bean is still grown according to tradition here. The climbing vines are supported by chestnut posts from nearby coppiced woods, while the harvest is carried out by hand. The pods are left to dry on woven racks known as cannizzi, then beaten in bags. One of the Presidium’s unusual characteristics is that the soil where the beans are grown is fertilized only with matured manure, without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Campania’s Sweet White Onions
An essential ingredient in susciello di cipolla soup, the Vatolla onion, from a hamlet of the Cilento municipality of Perdifumo, in the province of Salerno, reflects centuries of rural traditions. These include the custom of lighting three bonfires at the time of sowing and only ever selling the onions woven into braids. The association of producers that belongs to the Presidium is primarily made up of women, who are particularly expert at weaving the onions, and they have been joined by a group of younger people who want to rediscover their history and roots. The main characteristic of the onion is its markedly sweet flavor, with little pungency and a rich fragrance, which makes it ideal for eating raw in salads, though it is also cooked not just in the susciello soup but also in frittatas with cacioricotta cheese.
Terra Madre Salone del Gusto is organized by Slow Food, Piedmont Region and City of Turin, with the patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry, the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Anci. The event has been made possible by the support of companies who believe in the values and objectives of the event, including Main Partners: Iren, Lavazza, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pastificio di Martino, QBA – Quality Beer Academy, Reale Mutua and UniCredit; Fondazione Compagnia di San Paolo, Fondazione CRT, Consulta delle Fondazioni di origine bancaria del Piemonte e della Liguria.