A new gastronomy: This was the central theme of three days of training held in Krakow at the start of February as part of the SlowFood-CE: Culture, Heritage, Identity and Food project, funded by the European Union.
The cultural heritage connected to food represents a crucial resource for local areas, but is often undervalued. By working with communities and promoting local traditions and skills, without losing sight of economic, environmental and social sustainability, it is possible not only to improve knowledge about the wealth of gastronomic heritage, but also to create a new multidisciplinary approach to food that acknowledges the strong bonds between plate, planet and people.
Taking these ideas as a starting point, 25 participants—local Slow Food representatives and public officials from the five Central European countries of Italy, Croatia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland—gathered in Krakow in early February to discuss biodiversity, culture and traditions, with a special focus on the relationships between cities and rural areas.
Cities, in fact, are the perfect laboratory for successfully achieving a radical change of perspective on gastronomic heritage: Small enough to have a strong influence on the entrepreneurial and social landscape, but big enough to ensure access to international markets.
This is why Slow Food has launched a three-year project entitled SlowFood-CE: Culture, Heritage, Identity and Food, which supports cooperation between Central European regions, constructing a transferrable model able to promote and add value to traditional foods along with their producers, native breeds and seeds, artisanal food-production techniques, folklore, the cultural landscape and the natural resources that feed and connect city-dwellers and rural communities, while also forging a new alliance between five cities known for their rich cultural heritage (Venice, Dubrovnik, Brno, Krakow and Kecskemét).
“The historic townscape and the vibrant, friendly atmosphere of Krakow provided the background to the Slow Food-CE project meeting, organized by the Krakow partners in a most professional and heartfelt way,” said Olga Rendek, attending with Magdolna Tamás as representatives of the Kiskunság Convivium in Hungary. “The meeting was both useful and enjoyable. It was useful because of the high standard of presentations and in-depth discussions, all providing the necessary guidance for the next steps to be taken in the implementation of the project. It was also enjoyable due to the richness of the various other parts of the meeting, like the visits to the Wielicka salt mine and to the local farmers’ market, or the guided tasting of the specialties of the local cuisine, all closely related to the spirit of ‘culture, heritage, identity and food’.”
The first day opened with a workshop entitled “From the identification of intangible cultural heritage to its promotion,” which included a presentation by Piercarlo Grimaldi, an anthropologist at the University of Gastronomic Sciences. He discussed the trajectories of research in ethnodiversity and biodiversity, the Ark of Taste and the Granaries of Memory. Paola Roveglia of Slow Food presented the objectives of the subsequent “training of trainers” with an introduction to mapping, the next task that the cities will be working on. The following days were occupied with the transnational training on mapping gastronomic cultural heritage resources, with an outline of the stages needed to realize the five pilot actions in each of the five cities, ensuring that the cultural heritage is recognized and experienced by a wide audience and that economic development is stimulated.
“We were very happy to host project partners, for two reasons,” said Szymon Gatlik of the City of Krakow afterwards. “First, because we feel the meeting in Krakow brought some valuable inputs regarding the next steps in the project. Activities designed for the coming months will definitely help us to describe and promote gastronomic heritage in all the partner cities and probably also define common areas and routes. Second, we had a chance to show to our partners and friends what Krakow really is, why every aspect of cultural heritage, including gastronomic, is so important here—in the city celebrating the 40th anniversary of being included in the UNESCO List of World Cultural Heritage, as one of the first 12 sites ever.”
The participants’ tour of the city included a visit to the Targ Pietruszkowy farmers’ market, which will soon become an Earth Market. Every Saturday around 80 producers attend the market, selling fresh vegetables and fruit, bread, oils, juices, preserves, honey, meat, milk, eggs, cheese, freshwater fish, flours, cakes and much more. They also work with local organizations, like the Fundacja Kupuj Odpowiedzialnie (the Buy Responsibly Foundation) to organize training and experience-sharing days. The visit provided the participants with a concrete example of how gastronomic heritage can be promoted.
The next important dates will be Terra Madre Salone del Gusto (Turin, September 20-24, 2018). This international event will provide an opportunity to present the five pilot actions for promoting cultural heritage that the cities have chosen to put into practice following the mapping work. It will also offer a chance to share good practices of cultural heritage promotion in urban spaces and to meet with representatives from European and regional institutions to talk about the project’s initial results and to look forward to the next planned activities. These include the integration of gastronomic cultural heritage within relevant policies in the urban sector (culture, trade, education, economic and rural development, environment) and hence the development of new policies at all levels of government.