Turino, Day 1 – Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto

TURIN, ITALY – I lucked out when I struck up a conversation with an Italian photographer my first day of the Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto conference. I couldn’t help but admire his impressive camera lens. He didn’t give me his name, but he generously said I could publish his pictures here on A News Cafe, as long as I gave attribution to the Torino, Italy, website that contained his work, “Scatto”, found at wwww.spaziotorino.it.

If you read Italian, go for it. Otherwise, enjoy the photos, which do a great job of capturing the flavor of the Salone del Gusto/Terra Madre conference, a place attended by thousands of delegates and vendors worldwide.

The opening night was a four-hours’-long marathon session of revered speakers, music and messages delivered via headphones that translated in eight languages.

This was a year of significant firsts on a couple of levels for Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto. First, it was the first year that Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre joined forces to become one huge conference.

Second, it’s the first year the conference invited the general public to attend, which is how so Joe and daughter-in-law Marie were able to attend as Czech Republic Slow Food members.

The conference is still in full swing, but for me, the highlight remains the start of the opening ceremony where delegates paraded into the building, dressed in traditional attire, and carrying their countries’ flags. It was pretty moving, which meant I eventually lost the battle to fight tears as I took in the scene of all those incredible people streaming into the colosseum, proudly waving their countries’ flags.

Terra Madre is part educational workshops and information and networking, while Salone del Gusto features the vendors’ products that they’ve hauled from their far-off homes to share with us.

This part of the event felt much like the start of the Olympics,with the audience yelling and clapping approval and pride for their home countries. Italy, with the hometown advantage, received the loudest applause.

IMHO, the opening ceremonies, that lasted until nearly midnight, were way too long, especially considering that most of the delegates were wiped and jet-lagged, evidenced by many people who’d fallen asleep in their seats. But I also understand Slow Food’s desire to cram in as much as possible in that first gathering. There were so many impressive, notable people to feature, such as Alice Waters, food pioneer and arguably the mother of California cuisine; and Carlin Petrini, the undisputed godfather of the Slow Food movement.

Right now, it’s nearly 2 a.m. and my brain is brimming with new information about such issues as food labeling, and putting an end to food waste, and protecting heritage seeds and the grand goal to create 1,000 gardens in Africa.

I met a Moroccan woman whose family has made olive oil for generations, and she’s now working to train women to be farmers. I met a pair of L.A. guys – one’s a chef, the other’s a non-profit director, who talked easily for 30 minutes about what one can do with tons of gleaned citrus fruit, I mean, besides hand a kid an orange.

I met a woman from Kenya whose village makes knitted animals, and scores of people who represent every possible angle of the food world.

Tomorrow is set aside for Salon del Gusto, and visits to vendors.

More to come.


Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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12 Responses

  1. Avatar Ginny says:

    Keep enjoying your time 'over there', Doni. Good to spend time with Joe and Maria, also.

    In other words, just have a great time!

    Love & God Bless.

  2. wow, the crowd looks huge! Who knew so many people would be interested in slow food?

    • Avatar Maria says:

      I'm sure it's not all about slow food, perhaps about who, what and were and how food grows. It's about education not trends, but the past and the future meeting. yes how amazing is it to see so many people, perhaps they too will take away with them there balcony garden… or volunteer to make everyday better for everyone

  3. Avatar ` says:

    FABULOUS, FABULOUS, FABULOUS .!!!!! All of it! All of you!! What an experience you're having for all of us.

    Thank you!!!!

    P.S. Will the two conferences always be held together and in Italy?

  4. Avatar Canda says:

    Sounds so exciting, and I'm so happy you're there to enjoy and share your adventures with us. Looking forward to all your stories.

  5. Avatar RMV says:

    Enjoy, but hurry home! 🙂

  6. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Thanks Doni. In one short article you demolished any idea about what I thought you were doing in Italy. I guess I was thinking that "Slow Food" was another California fad and that Italy was a perfect conference location!

    Look at all those people from all over the world!

    I've read books about the food industry, and the politics of food; production and distribution. I imagined that I was in a minority of "cranks" who worry about and complain about agri-business the food industry practices. I'd better start doing some research. I'm guess I'm not alone in the world!

  7. Avatar Matthew Grigsby says:

    It's so fantastic that you get to experience this firsthand! Keep those words and photos coming, we're starving back here!

  8. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Very interesting, Doni. Enjoy!

  9. Avatar KarenC says:

    Fabulous – experience of a lifetime. Enjoy! I wish I was there with you.

  10. Avatar Marilyn Traugott says:

    Doni, I can't wait to read about all the food you will be sampling. Seriously, keep in mind Adrienne's idea about a foodie tour when you make all these wonderful contacts. And have fun!

  11. I just got into the Internet room at the conference, so full of us that the wireless keeps dropping. I was able to quickly check emails long enough to see that my return flight that transfers from Milan to Newark has been canceled … blame it on Hurricaine Sandy. Uh oh. Gotta run. (Sorry about the weird formatting in parts of the story.) I don't have time to do a real post, but I will tell you that today was fantastic.

    I sat in on a bunch of sessions presented by young Slow Food folks who are doing all kinds of cool food-related things. (A couple were wearing T-shirts that said "Make Food, Eat Love." I WANT that shirt!

    And there was a 20-something UK guy who basically has a matchmaking network where, for example, if you are making a pot of stew you can put out the word and people show up at your house, and maybe they'll bring bread and dessert and wine or beer. And another young woman (also from the UK) who is working to elimate all food waste in her small town, and making sure excess food goes to people who need it.

    At lunch I talked with some women from Russia whose family has a dairy farm, and they make cheese products. And then I met a man from England, originally from India, who's on a personal mission to make people fall in love with sardines and quit overfarming the popular fish. (It's part of the Slow Fish movement.)

    I talked with some Sicilian food producers who employ prisoners to make the food, and their factories are former Mafia headquarters. Thousands of amazing stories and people. I'm so glad I'm here.

    Even so, I need to get that flight situation straightened out. My house is on the AAUW Home Tour Oct. 3 and I need to get back to wash windows and make the place presentable.