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.