I recently became a member of Slow Food International. Slow Food is the name of a non-profit organization founded in 1986 by a man named Carlo Petrini in Bra, Italy. It started as a reaction to the opening of a McDonald’s near Rome’s famous Spanish Steps but has grown to a worldwide following of more than 100,000 members in 132 countries. Basically, Slow Food is the opposite of fast food – it advocates taking time to cook and enjoy meals rather than gulping down a hamburger and fries on the go. There is also an emphasis on where food comes from, how it tastes and how our choices impact the world. I’m not a humorless militant about it (and yes, I do eat fast food on occasion) but I think that many of us have become a little disconnected from the idea of savouring and enjoying our meals the way many cultures do.
I was particularly impressed (and somewhat envious) when traveling in Italy a couple of years ago and observed Italians on holiday. My husband and I were visiting a resort town on the Tuscan coast and it was Ferragosto (August 15th), a major national holiday. We spent the morning lounging on the beach at a local beach club but at lunchtime the lounge chairs emptied and everyone gathered to eat. As we made our way to a nearby restaurant we watched Italian families seated at long tables heaping with bowls of homemade pastas, fish, vegetables, fruit and wine. They took a couple of hours to enjoy their meal together before returning to the beach for the rest of the afternoon. To me, this was a far more appealing way to enjoy a meal than shoveling in dinner while in front of the tv (which happens more than I’d like to admit). Granted, the Italian scenario was an ideal notion (on a holiday, no less) but even if we take the time now and again for a slow meal, it’s a step in the right direction.
If you’re interested in learning more about Slow Food, you can check out their website: www.slowfood.com. I’m not going to lie – the membership is a bit expensive and it may not be for everyone but I think it’s worth embracing at least a few of the ideas. After all, we have to eat every single day so we might as well enjoy it!