Issue 24 of Slow magazine opens with a visit to Manchester, England, ‘a city never previously noted as a capital of fine food and wine ‘. But the choice, which follows in the footsteps of past featured cities such as Berlin and Marseilles, ‘is a challenge to all those who believe that food is a question of national identity, and can have only one, definitive expression’. On the contrary, ‘the cities of the future will be multicultural and this will emerge far more effectively in their food than in their language. In Manchester, Chinatown, Little Pakistan and Gay Village are valuable vantage points from which to observe the values and decline of the two styles of English cuisine, that of the bosses and that of the workers’. Editor Alberto Capatti’s preface presents the content and the philosophy of an issue which seeks to show its readers that ‘It is still possible to explore the world but you need to see it in the right way, through eyeglasses that can perceive its best features’.
Slow 24 presents the history of Manchester, along with its gastronomy and its various neighborhoods, restaurants, recipes and shops. The profile of Manchester continues with, in Capatti’s words, a discussion of restaurants and pubs that are ‘where we could eat without spending a fortune or feeling uncomfortable’ (places, we might add, like those that have been included in Slow Food’s annual Osteria d’Italia guide for the past twelve years).
Slow 24’s journey then moves on to ‘two cities which since 1959 have been observing one another from a distance, and broadcasting their differences to the whole world – Havana and Miami.’ The first city, Havana, appears just after liberation from the Batista dictatorship, in ‘Memories of a Revolutionary’, in which the writer Daniel Chavarrìa, who left his native Uruguay to go to the paradise of liberty in Chile and saw his ideals crumble in the course of his interactions with the staff of various restaurants. But then he grasps that, at times, the revolution can move in unexpected ways with unexpected results. The life of Miami is recounted by Philip Sinsheimer, who describes the city as a prototype of a gastronomic non-entity , a place where so many cultures meet and mix that traditions are re-invented daily. Dominique Fournier describes the restaurant business in Mexico, a comida corrida so far removed from the exotic tastes and folklore as to seem almost new and unexpected. Also surprising, but for different motives, is the eclectic gourmandisme of Australia as told to us by John Newton in his diary of a journey through Tasmania, Kangaroo Island, Victoria, and New South Wales.
Moving on from the restaurant business to livestock slaughtering – a subject that will be dealt with in greater detail in the next number – here Bernard Rosenberger speaks about the dogmatic Islamic regulations of the medieval period. In ‘African Meat’, Ettore Tibaldi studies the origins of the meat-eating habits of mankind and hunting. Mohammed Hocine Benkheira (‘Let It Bleed’) recounts the ritualistic practices required by Islam law for the slaughter of animals, while Marie Chemorin writes about her visits to the horse slaughterhouses of Paris and the human consumption of horse meat. In ‘Bread and Apricots’, an apricot grower from Provence and his baker companion provide a starting point for writer Sophie Agata Ambroise’s musings about agriculture and the environment; and, last but not least, Maurice Bensoussan revives the epoch of the sleeper car, the pride and joy of George Mortimer Pullman.
(all quotes from Alberto Capatti’s editorial)
Elena Marino, a journalist, works for Slow Food Editore