Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition and the Honest Pleasures of Food
Carlo Petrini, Ben Watson, Slow Food Editore
Chelsea Green Publishing, Oct 1, 2001 - Cooking - 287 pages
Remember the days before the dot.com explosion, before Golden Arches rose from the Great Plains, before the Age of Information, when the only commodity that wasn't in short supply in America was time? Time to relax and reflect, time to cook well, eat well, and live the life of sustainable hedonism. Today we pound down our Big Mac and fries as we check our e-mail on our collective Palm Pilots, at the expense of true nourishment for our bodies and souls.
"Enough!" says Carlo Petrini, the founder of Slow Food International, a movement that encourages us to turn down the volume, unplug the answering machine, and enjoy life to its fullest. Away with nutraceutical soft drinks and breakfast cereals made from refined sugar and shaped liked clowns. Bring back the pleasure of the palate, and return the humanity to food. More than 60,000 members worldwide now belong to the Slow Food movement, which believes that the slow shall inherit the earth.
Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures of Food is an anthology for cooks, gourmets, and anyone who is passionate about food and its impact on our culture. Drawn from five years of the quarterly journal Slow (only recently available in America), this book includes more than 100 articles covering eclectic topics from "Falafel" to "Fat City." From the market at Ulan Bator in Mongolia to Slow Food Down Under, this book offers an armchair tour of the exotic and bizarre. You'll pass through Vietnam's Snake Tavern, enjoy the Post-Industrial Pint of Beer, and learn why the lascivious villain in Indian cinema always eats Tandoori Chicken. The articles are contributed by some of the world's top food writers.
Slow Food is moving fast in North America, with more than 5,000 members, loosely organized into 55 "Convivia," from Montreal to San Francisco, benefiting from enormous free publicity. Slow Food offers a clear alternative to the "fast food nation" (the title of Eric Schlosser's great book on the horrors of the fast food biz). This is a perfect follow-up to Joan Dye Gussow's This Organic Life, and is proof positive that he or she who lives slow, lives best.
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This is a lovely book, but needs to be enjoyed slowly. The writing style is often worthy of the New Yorker. The topics covered are wonderfully eclectic --a long series of short essays on fave foods and beverages. Savor it!!
It allows a reader to make a number of judgements about the Slow Food movement.
Although Slow Food is Italian in inspiration, the book covers a wide world of food from many countries, all treated respectfully. I could not detect European or Italian chauvinism.
It deals with a range of issues, and is certainly not obsessed with the gourmet side of eating. There is none of the snarkiness of restaurant reviews, and no snootiness. It is concerned about bio-diversity, animal welfare, industrial homogenization of tastes -- meaty issues, one could say.
The book was written in 2001, and Slow Food has matured quite a bit since then. So some themes are missing that we've come to expect of Slow Food -- very little on social justice or fair trade in this book, for example.
However, the book is more about food than people and places. I am surprised, for example, that there is nothing about the Turin area of Italy that has hosted so many global Slow Food events. I would have thought that the people and places that gave Slow Food a flying start in the word would have received some mention, if only to better understand the soil in which Slow Food evolved.