Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Slow Food: A Case for Taste, by Carlo Petrini

Jo Hunter Adams

This quick read lead me through the history of the Slow Food movement-- from it's motivations in the 1980s to the global movement it is today.

The Slow Food movement is at one level a response to the Fast Food movement. Where fast food is about uniformity, predictability, and speed, the Slow Food movement wants to fight back with variety, surprise, and intentionality. It's about a lifestyle, about training tastebuds, and about placing food back into the hands of the masses. The Slow Food movement is not about emphasizing super-expensive cuisine. It's about upping the overall quality of food, and teaching people how to taste quality.

My only reservation reading Slow Food was the sense it didn't quite fit the paradigm that I sit in. It presented a fast-food slow-food dichotomy, where I would argue, that is only one of the dichotomies around food and food production. In North America and much of Europe, it fits perfectly. Yet I feel as though for the most part, Africa has long sat outside this way of thinking-- food is central, yes; I miss South African foods, yes; but something other than food, something I can't exactly put my finger on, is the fulcrum of changing society. Whereas much of what is happening in North America, particularly (simplistically: individualism, speed, quantity over quality) can be viewed through the lens of food, I am not sure this is universal.

That said, a great introduction to the history of a powerful movement.