Terra Madre

The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore
I’ve just been to the most extraordinary event – it was held in Turin in Northern Italy in the last week in October. Terra Madre, meaning Mother Earth, was billed as the world’s first meeting of food communities. This event initiated by Slow Food was the brainchild of Carlo Petrini founder of Slow Food, the environmentalist food movement. It was held over 4 days in the enormous Palazza del Lavoro in Turin, there were 4,300 participants representing about 1,000 food communities from 130 countries. Terra Madre provided a meeting place and a forum for people from around the world - for farmers, artisans, food producers, seed-savers, fishermen, distributors, cooks, cheese-makers, fish smokers, cured meat producers, bakers, merchants … to come together to exchange ideas, share diverse experiences and to try to find solutions to similar problems.

This event was supported by the Italian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, the President of Piedmont Regional Authority and the Mayor of Turin, Coldiretti - Piedmont National Farmers Federation, CRT Foundation and New Holland, the agricultural machinery manufacturer and many other sponsors.

Early this year Slow Food sent out a call to their convivium leaders around the world to identify food communities in each country who were involved in sustainable agriculture.

Sixty five participants came from Ireland. The 4,300 delegates who were chosen were hosted by B&B’s, monasteries, farmers, hostels and entire villages which enabled the visitors to interact and exchange ideas with local farmers and food producers.

At the opening session on Wednesday Carlo Petrini set out his agenda to protect the rights of the small farmer and promote sustainable agriculture. It was also a call to unite against the growing domination of the multinationals and large corporations, ‘alone and divided communities can not react against violence’, Petrini told the enthusiastic if jet-lagged assembly, a vast gathering of food producers who had converged on Turin from all corners of the earth. Some had never before strayed from their villages, not to mention travelled on trains or planes. They came, each food heroes in their own way, each with an amazing story to tell, some clutching precious seeds, others with grains, all with a deep knowledge of their own food culture. Many were dressed in their colourful traditional clothes, distinctive headdress – from Indian feathers to cowboy hats, sombreros, head scarves…

From the several keynote addresses translated into seven official languages, it was clear that politics not just pleasure would dominate the two days of workshops.

Indian activist Vandana Shiva accused decision makers of being out of touch with farmers, ‘the earth’s caretakers’.

Speaker after speaker from the Minister for Agriculture Giovanni Alemanno, to Alice Waters from Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, stressed the need for bio-diversity, lashed out against transgenic crops, illustrated how globalization is causing the erosion of rural communities, how the indiscriminate use of pesticides and antibiotics is destroying the land and how the WTO organization accords affect farmers and food producers.

Never before has such a diverse group of like-minded people come together for a common purpose. Where else would Masai peasants meet Afghan raisin farmers, or American maple syrup producers meet yak herders and cheesemakers from Kyrayzstan, or wild Irish salmon smokers meet Ghanaian fishermen.

Over a period of two days there were 67 Earth workshops on a huge variety of topics, many were brilliant, others were a little chaotic when occasionally desperate delegates from indigenous communities elbowed their way onto any forum to tell their story.

The story was always fascinating but not always relevant to the topic. On a panel that I spoke on there were 5 official speakers, thirteen turned up to speak! 

Dolores Godeffroy from Swaziland had fought for years to open the first African restaurant in her country. An old Russian woman spoke passionately about a local grain. Members of the Tohona O’dan tribe in Arizona came determined to spread the word about the tepary bean, a valuable traditional food they were reintroducing to try to reduce obesity and diabetes in their population.

Slow Food, since its inception in 1986 has already battled and successfully saved a growing number of foods and drinks threatened with extinction. It defends our right as consumers to free choice. It could be described as the Greenpeace of gastronomy.

Prince Charles, an organic farmer himself, addressed the closing session. In his speech to the conference, the Prince highlighted the huge social and environmental costs of cheap ‘fast food’. His Royal Highness said: ‘Any analysis of the real costs would have to look at such things as the rise in food-borne illnesses, the advent of new pathogens such as E.Coli 0157, antibiotic resistance from the overuse of drugs in animal feed, extensive water pollution from intensive agricultural systems, and many other factors. These costs are not reflected in the price of fast food, but that doesn’t mean that our society isn’t paying them.’

Terra Madre preceded the Salone del Gusto, the biggest artisanal food fair in the world by a couple of days – there, hundreds of producers sold their products to a public increasingly craving forgotten flavours. Ireland was well represented by Bord Bia who proudly displayed the food of our artisan producers - Fingal Ferguson’s ham, Con Traas Apple Juice, Carlow Brewing, Connemara Smokehouse, Crossogue Preserves, Milleeven, and a huge variety of Irish farmhouse cheeses.

The response was overwhelming but the most sought after item was Oliver Beaujouan’s seaweed tapenade and dilisk collected and prepared by the dedicated seaweed collector.

Further down the aisle the Irish raw milk cheese and Wild Irish Salmon presidia were getting a tremendous response. Irish Cheesemakers and fish smokers who manned the stalls were astonished by the positive response to the product.

It was more than evident to everyone who travelled to Turin that there is a deep craving and a growing market for artisan and specialist food products. Over 140,000 people visited in three days – its over for this year, mark October 2006 in your diary – its an event no food lover should miss. October 2005 will bring the Cheese Festival in Bra.
www.slowfood.com  www.slowfoodireland.com 

Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Pork with Fennel Seeds

Shoulder of pork is best for this long slow cooking method, the meat is layered with fat which slowly melts away. We also slow roast shoulder of lamb which is succulent and juicy.
Serves 8 – 10

1 whole shoulder of pork, with skin, about 2.75-3.25 kg (7-8 lb) in weight
8 garlic cloves, peeled
30 g (1 oz) fennel seeds
Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli flakes, optional

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8. 

Using a small sharp knife, (a Stanley knife if best), score the rind of the shoulder with deep cuts about 5 mm (1/4’’) wide.

Peel and crush the garlic with the fennel seeds, then mix with salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Push this mixture into the cuts, over the rind and on the surface of the meat. Place the shoulder on a rack in a roasting tin and roast for 30 minutes or until the skin begins to blister and brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 150ºC/325ºF/Gas 3, and leave the meat to roast for 5-6 hours or more until

it is completely soft under the crisp skin. The meat will give way and will almost fall off the bone. Serve each person some crisp skin and some chunks of meat cut from different parts of the shoulder. Serve with soft fluffy mashed potato.
Loin and streaky pork is also delicious cooked in this way.

Irish Apple Cake

We are always being asked for this delicious traditional recipe
It would originally have been baked in a bastible or pot beside an open fire and later in the oven or stove on tin or enamel plates. These are much better than ovenproof glass because the heat travels through and cooks the pastry base more readily - worth remembering, as a tart with a soggy base is not attractive! 
Serves 6 approx.

8 ozs (225g) flour
3 teaspoon baking powder
4 ozs (110g) butter
42 ozs (125g) castor sugar
1 egg, preferably free-range
2-4 fl. ozs (50-120ml) milk, approx.
1-2 cooking apples - we use Bramley Seedling or Grenadier
2-3 cloves (optional)
egg wash
Ovenproof plate 

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it resembles the texture of breadcrumbs, add 3 ozs (85g) castor sugar, make a well in the centre and mix to a soft dough with the beaten egg and enough milk to form a soft dough. Divide in two. Put one half onto a greased ovenproof plate and pat out to cover. Peel, core and chop up the apples, place them on the dough and add 12 ozs (45g) sugar, depending on the sweetness of the apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and fit on top, this is easier said than done as this 'pastry' is more like scone dough and as a result is very soft. Press the sides together, cut a slit through the lid, egg wash and bake in a moderate oven 180C/350F/regulo 4 for 40 minutes approx. or until cooked through and nicely browned. Dredge with castor sugar and serve warm with Barbados sugar and softly whipped cream.

Ballymaloe Irish Stew

Serves 4-6

2½ - 3 lbs (1.35kg) lamb chops (gigot or rack chops) not less than 1 inch (2.5cm) thick
8 medium or 12 baby carrots
8 medium or 12 baby onions
8 -12 potatoes, or more if you like
salt and freshly ground pepper
1½-1¾ pints stock (lamb stock if possible) or water
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablesp. roux, optional – see recipe

1 tablesp. freshly chopped parsley
1 tablesp. freshly chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/regulo 4.

Cut the chops in half and trim off some of the excess fat. Set aside. Render down the fat on a gentle heat in a heavy pan (discard the rendered down pieces).

Peel the onions and scrape or thinly peel the carrots (if they are young you could leave some of the green stalk on the onion and carrot). Cut the carrots into large chunks, or if they are small leave them whole. If the onions are large, cut them into quarters through the root, if they are small they are best left whole.

Toss the meat in the hot fat on the pan until it is slightly brown. Transfer the meat into a casserole, then quickly toss the onions and carrots in the fat. Build the meat, carrots and onions up in layers in the casserole, carefully season each layer with freshly ground pepper and salt. De-glaze the pan with lamb stock and pour into the casserole. Peel the potatoes and lay them on top of the casserole, so they will steam while the stew cooks. Season the potatoes. Add a sprig of thyme, bring to the boil on top of the stove, cover with a butter wrapper or paper lid and the lid of the saucepan. Transfer to a moderate oven or allow to simmer on top of the stove until the stew is cooked, 1-1½ hours approx, depending on whether the stew is being made with lamb or hogget.

When the stew is cooked, pour off the cooking liquid, de-grease and reheat in another saucepan. Slightly thicken by whisking in a little roux if you like. Check seasoning, then add chopped parsley and chives. Pour over the meat and vegetables. Bring the stew back up to boiling point and serve from the pot or in a large pottery dish.

4 ozs (110g) butter
4 ozs (110g) flour
elt the butter and cook the flour in it for 2 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally. Use as required. Roux can be stored in a cool place and used as required or it can be made up on the spot if preferred. It will keep at least a fortnight in a refrigerator.
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Irish Stew with Pearl Barley
Add 1-2 tablespoons pearl barley with the vegetables.
Increase the stock to 2 pints (1.2L) as the pearl barley soaks up lots of liquid.

Yum, Yum Pigs Bum

This soup recipe of Giana Ferguson’s comes from ‘The Pleasures of Slow Food’ by Corby Kummer, published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Serves 4-6 as a main course

12 ozs (175g) dark green kale, such as dinosaur or lacinato
6 cups (48 fl.oz/scant 1½ litres) water
salt to taste
1 lb (450g) russet potatoes, (eg Rooster), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice.
2fl.ozs (50ml) extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 ozs (110g) smoked garlic sausage, cut into ½ inch dice or smoked bacon, cut into ¼ inch crosswise slices.

Strip the cabbage leaves from their stems and cut away the tough mid-ribs of any large leaves. Roll the leaves tightly into cigars and, using a sharp knife, cut them into shreds. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil and add salt. Add the potatoes and cook until soft and beginning to fall apart, about 8-10 minutes. Using a potato masher, smash them into a puree. Adjust the heat so that the soup simmers gently. Add the cabbage, olive oil and salt and black pepper, keeping in mind that the sausage or bacon may be salty. Simmer until the cabbage is tender, 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the sausage or bacon in a sauté pan or skillet over medium heat until crisp and golden brown. Drain the fat and set the meat aside.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Divide the sausage or bacon among the bowls.

Foolproof Food

Nutella Pannini

Serves 1
1 Pannini
Nutella or Green & Black’s organic chocolate hazelnut spread.

Split the pannini in half. Spread generously with Nutella or chocolate spread. Pan-grill or toast on both sides. Serve immediately. Watch out, it can be very hot!

Hot Tips

Slow Food Books – The Pleasures of Slow Food by Corby Kummer  published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
Italian Cheese - A guide to their discovery and appreciation – Slow Food Editore

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About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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