“Students teaching students” was Slow Food Turda’s vision when planning Romania’s first ever gastronomic camp for youth, which came into fruition over ten days in late July and August. At the Vara Gastonomica (summer gastronomy) camp, over thirty participants joined in workshops and activities dedicated to taking a broad look at food, led by students from Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG). In the setting of Baisoara in the Apuseni Mountains, the program covered a range of topics including wine history, cheese, pasta and bread production, nutrition, food chemistry and sensory analysis, as well as how our food choices affect the world around us, with a particular focus on Slow Food’s seven pillars.
“In Romania we are lucky to still have many of our food traditions alive and well. We still cook at home, we still bake, and I believe we still have a good idea of what good food is,” said Marta Pozsonyi, Slow Food Turda’s Convivium Leader who organized the camp. “But now, many younger children are not learning these traditions. They are spending more and more time in front of their computers and television where they are swamped with advertising. And they are becoming much less interested in food and agriculture.”
The convivium decided to ask students from the UNISG, Slow Food’s private non profit institution, to facilitate an optimal learning environment. “It was important for us to ask other young people to run the workshops, which is why we asked students from the university,” said Pozsonyi. “We didn’t want to have big academics or simulate a class-room, but wanted to have the participants learn from others in their age group and have a friendly, relaxed atmosphere, so we could all learn together. We also wanted to provide an opportunity for a cultural exchange that all the students – those guiding and those participating – can benefit from.”
Pozsonyi has envisioned creating a gastronomy camp since the beginning of her work with the convivium two years ago. “We have always worked a lot with children of kindergarten age, but we soon realized that we also need to fill the gap and work with teenagers to ensure that they carry on our traditions and develop a passion for food. We hope that by doing these sorts of projects that in 10 or 15 years, our country will still have quality producers, farms, and food that we can be proud of.”
“We feel it’s particularly important to teach children and youth about good food, because they then go on to influence their friends, their families and then their communities. We saw this for example in our project, “Life in the Green Garden”, where we created a garden at a local school. Parents came up and told me afterwards that their children would come home, enthusiastic from what they had learnt, and tell them not buy just any generic cheese from the supermarket, but go to the market and find a local producer. Its moments like this that keep us motivated.”
For more information:
Slow Food Turda
University of Gastronomic Sciences