Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A taste of Europe

What was to become the Slow Food movement began as a very local and particular fight in 1986, in Rome, against the opening of a MacDonalds near the Spanish Steps, a very scenic and historical place in the "eternal city". Carlo Petrini, founder of the movement, organised a demonstration, crowds thronged the piazzas - and home-baked pizzas, it is said, were given out to the protesters. From this first fight, the organisation kept its very local-scale, nearly home-made mode of action, and a fierce antagonism to globalised and standardised fast food, that was to generate the name "Slow Food".
The movement was initially a mix of politically leftwing activists and gourmet amateurs. In the time that led to its real founding as a general movement, in 1989, in Paris, it set aside the "fighting against" spirit, and adopted a "building for" philosophy, and was joined by environmentalists concerned about the consequences of the modern food industry. But not only the food was slow, the movement also took its time to mature: only in 1998 was an office opened in Germany, and in 2003 in France. The last 5 to 10 years saw the Slow Food sign become slowly familiar to the backpacking youth exploring European cities. I personally discovered Slow Food a few years ago in Florence, on the sign of a gelateria... and guess what opened a few weeks later, 100 metres from my own room in Paris? A slow foodglacier, you got it!


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