The Slow Food movement began as a reaction to fast food, and got its start in 1986 with the foundation of its forerunner organization, Arcigola, in a protest to the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy.
Slow food focuses on taking pleasure in eating, of enjoying the freshest local ingredients from local food producers and preserving and celebrating local culinary traditions. In essence, it was supposed to be what Italy was traditionally all about, foodwise.
In my experience, in the early days of the Slow Food movement, this was unfortuantely not the case. Restaurants that were Slow Food members had one thing in common – they were slow, often tortuously so, and worst of all the food was often mediocre. It seemed that the only thing that they had embraced in the Slow Food movement was its logo – a snail. But as the movement has grown, so has the professional level of its member restaurants and I am happy to report that it is now possible to eat well at some Slow Food member restaurants at a reasonable leisurely pace.
I recently had lunch at Da Andrea, in the town of Palazzolo Acreide in Sicily, where there were many food items on the menu identified as being a Slow Food “presidia,” which essentially means they are protected. We sampled the Nebrodi pork from a slow food pig, which was coated with slow food pistachios, and a plate of slow food Sicilian cheeses. Not too slow, and very good.
Today more than 122 countries with 450 chapters are part of Slow Food, and a biennial conference in Torino, (Turin) Italy brings in thousands of delegates from around the world to eat, discuss and enjoy regional foods. Learn more about the Slow Food movement at www.slowfood.com