The Slow Food Movement: Searching for Perfection in the Kitchen

 Those, who are purposefully searching for a pure quality of food, will quickly face the logo with a snail while traveling in Italy. Such stickers mark the entrances to restaurants, which really care about the food quality. This slow and tiny animal is not just a simple cartoon element, but a symbol, carrying a huge idea of the “Slow Food” movement. Some decades ago this philosophy appeared in previously mentioned Mediterranean country. However, it didn’t last long for the idea to be spread all around the world. “Food is not a job for us. It’s like a ritual, like magic, when you hear such words, they simply can’t leave you emotionless. On the contrary, they make you dig deeper to find out more about this magical life of “Slow Food”.

Principles of “Slow Food”

This movement started when Carlo Petrini from a tiny Italian town called Bra dared to stand up and go against the whole huge industry of the “fast food”. He loudly said -Basta!  For the questionable quality and opened a new blank page in the gastronomic history with a motto “Good, clean and fair”. When you dig deeper into this idea, you understand that there is no magic, there are no mystical rituals. It is just a very simple thought of eating quality food which, unfortunately, today appears more as an aspiration than reality.

How do the main principles of “Slow Food” philosophy sound like?

First of all, a special selection of raw materials should be done: products from wholesale trade chains do not exist in there. Secondly, the locality appears as an important aspect, when all the materials should be chosen from the nearest, in the terms of distance, producers. For example, a restaurant in Florence working with the idea of “Slow Food” will definitely prepare a dish with vegetables grown in Tuscany and for sure will not use carrots from Spain or olives from Greece. Then, let’s not forget the principles of freshness, seasonality, fair trade or the manner of cooking, following deep traditions from grandmother’s wisdom in the kitchen. Then again, this is just a part of the ways, how the whole “Slow Food” ideology should be maintained. It is necessary to mention that all these principles must be followed by the listed restaurants. Otherwise, if any nonconformities appear, the place can be suspended from participation in the movement. The main idea of our restaurant is to prepare home-made-feel-like food, similar to that, made by mother or grandmother. Also, we are paying big attention to tradition, price and quality ratio”, explains the delegate from Florentine restaurant ”Trattoria Sabatino”, which is officially listed as one of the “Slow Food” followers.

For seasonality – “Huge Attention”

Previously mentioned aspects reflect the theoretical view, how the philosophy of “Slow Food” should be maintained. But how does it look like in reality? And, for this overview why not to go deeper to, for example, the aspect of seasonality? Restaurant “Mangiando Mangiando”, located in Greve in Chianti, gives a very clear answer.

Its chef – Salvatore Toscano explains that they have only a few annually served main dishes, like Il Peposolo Stracottoor Taglierini, because they are like the emblem of the restaurant. But, for example, Risotto ai funghi porcini is served only from September to November, and totally winter soup Ribollita could never be found on late spring.

In summertime everyday from Thursday to Sunday from Orbetello arrives fresh fish, which is taken straight from fishermen’s cooperative “Cooperativa dei Pescatori di Orbetello”. Summer as well is the season of tomatoes.

In fall arrives fresh olive oil as well various dishes with polenta or chestnuts flour from Casentino is made. What about homemade dessert of chestnut pudding with some cream?

Winter is a time for various types of vegetables as cabbages, broccolis, cauliflowers, beans and so on. It is impossible to make better traditional Tuscanian soup Ribollita in any other time. During such season a dish most wanted there is risotto with turnips.

Spring appears as a time for asparagus and artichokes. After a long winter, finally arrives the fresh goat cheese. It means that traditional chianina meat rolls with goat cheese from Greve and tomatoes from Torre Guaceto can be served again”, so that’s how the story of seasonality looks like in restaurant “Mangiando Mangiando”.

Not An Easy Journey

However, the goals of “Slow Food” philosophy in reality are being achieved not so easily. “You should always be careful not to get carried away by the rhythms of the world around us”, says representative from family restaurant “Mario” in Florence.

Generally, restaurants underline that sometimes it gets really complicated to find particular raw materials, sometimes gets tough in this “fast world” to follow the long-lasting traditions of food preparation. Let’s not forget the economical factor too that what has better quality, is organic – usually costs more.

I would say that it costs twice as much, but the satisfaction of the customer repays that all”, says representative from restaurant “Mario”. He also added that – maintaining the movement of “Slow Food” itself is very important for today, “because it pursues the idea of excellence true, made up from things that are true, not a choreography. The thought is not about being nice, but about being good and concrete”.

Text and photos by Gintarė Adamonytė
Check out her stories from other destinations at Ladyvoyage website.
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