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Posts posted by Devotay

  1. Hi all.

    Been away a long time - very busy writing and speaking and doing book tour stuff. The 1st book has been such a success the publisher has asked me to do a sequel. So I'm returning to ask y'all for more recommendations.

    eGullet members were a big help in finding stories for A Cook's Journey, so I'm hoping that folks will once again chime in with names and places, food and farms all over the midwest. I seek people who "walk the walk" of Slow Food ideals, whether they are actual members of the movement or not.

    From Ohio to Oklahoma to North Dakota, the new book will tell the stories of the people who feed us well. Chefs, farmers, ranchers, cheesemakers winemakers, brewers, bakers, etc. etc., anyone and everyone who produces and/or promotes Good, Clean, Fair food.

    Drop a suggestion here, or join my Facebook group for the purpose here. I can't wait to hear from you all!

  2. Hello all,

    I'm afraid I haven't the time just now to wade into this, and will try to return soon to offer a fully formed opinion, but I did want to register one point of information, just for the record.

    NYT got their facts wrong - Corby Kummer is not a member of the Board of Directors and does not speak for Slow Food USA (or international) in any official, formal respect.

    More when I have a chance...

  3. Has anyone noticed that the Slow Food Movement is taking on a cult status....

    Among the symptoms: Agreement with the leader, even when his statements sometimes are little more than cliches; an attack on those who disagree with the principles of the movement; and devotion to the movement even when/if it goes beyond logic.

    And do let us please keep in mind Dr. Johnson's axiom to the effect that "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions".


    Where Mr. Sterling's argument is wrongheaded, yours is simply insulting. You have no right or reason to accuse me of being incapable of free thought or the ability to reason, as your statement clearly contends.

    Your assertion that "his statements sometimes are little more than cliches" has the sound of those who say they don't like the movie Casablanca because "it's just one cliche after another," blissfully unaware that it is original source of the ideas that became so well known as to be regarded as cliched.

    My rebuttal, which you term an "attack," was not against one who disagreed with the principles of the movement, I don't think Mr. Sterling does disagree with the principles. He does however deride what he perceives as snobbery and/or elitism, and therefore I set out to show him (and you) the larger picture. I also set out to remedy those aspects of the movement that cause said misperception, such as local chapters whose only events are $100/plate dinners.

    While I do hope that more people join Slow Food (and after Slow Food Nation many more undoubtedly will), I couldn't possibly care less if you or anyone else were to actually sign on, as long as the goals are achieved. The principles are far more important than the organization. We are not recruiting zombies to a cult, we are trying to reform the food system. We are trying to make sure that the wine you are so fond of can continue to be made and enjoyed without becoming McWine.

    And where, exactly, do you feel that the "movement... goes beyond logic."?

    No doubt you will say, if you bother to take the time, that my argument here is further proof of some knee-jerk reactionary defense of "our dear leader." To the contrary, as I have repeatedly stated in this post and others, my intent is to make sure people understand the mission of the organization, and that of the many related organizations, as one that seeks to make sure that industrial agriculture and cookie-cutter restaurants know that their right to swing their arms ends at the tip of the organic farmer's nose. They can do what they like, produce and consume as they wish, but not at the expense of the earth and of good, clean, fair food.

    Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, by the way, is in the midst of his last term as president of the organization. There is no blind worship of some benevolent dictator to be found here.

    And if others seek to find snobbery or elitism among foodies, they need look no further than your blog, as witnessed here:

    I always travel first class, have no choice but to taste the world's best wines, dine in the world's best restaurants and stay in the world's best hotels. To add insult to injury, I am even paid for my efforts.

    And let us also not forget that "Dr. Johnson's axiom" does not mean that one should not intend to do good.


    Meanwhile Caroline,

    I read your review and found it far more well-reasoned and insightful than most. I'd enjoy extending the dialog with you off this thread (via PM or eMail?). As I have said many times, my goal is not to simply eliminate the the perception of elitism, but also the causes of that perception as well. To that end I would find your input extremely valuable.

  4. O woe is me, to utter the word that shalt daren't be spoketh!

    ELITIST? *gasp*

    Takadi, you may find it petty, but the perpetuation of these accusations makes it harder to do the good work Slow Food is trying to do. And by this I mean the perpetuation by individual members and local convivia as well as my the MSM and the blogs.

    My goal in getting this conversation going on this site and others is to combat causes and effects so that our work can go forward unimpeded.

  5. Thanks for answering my question.

    However, once you factor in the cost of airfare and lodging, that $25 quarter pound of  jamon iberico is probably a better buy for someone who is not planning to visit Spain for some other reason anyway.

    Still, thanks also for confirming my second statement about good elitists not hesitating to spend less for something.  Of course, this is not exactly what's going on here; instead, what you describe is a rational decision to settle for something that meets all your requirements even though it may not be the absolute best in its class because the absolute best simply costs too much. Sensible conoisseurs do this all the time, as do sensible non-conoisseurs.

    Unfortunately for me, the jamon iberico is easy for me to buy, because someone here in Philadelphia decided it was worth importing, while no one here has yet decided that the Iowa prosciutto is worth importing to Pennsylvania.  Now if someone in Lancaster County decides to make a specialty ham to match these or the cave aged Cheddar-style cheese from that same county that I happily plunk down $20 a pound for when I can afford it, I will in all likelihood buy it before I buy jamon iberico.  But I only turn 50 once.

    Not sure it is a better buy - you should try the La Quercia

    And I'm pretty sure you can find it there in Philly - at least if you have a Whole Foods or Dean & DeLuca - both carry their products. I know you can find it at the south street store

  6. Geez, I go away for a couple days and come back to find I got a real barnburner going here. How nice.

    I know that organizations like our own Food Trust here in Philadelphia go to great lengths to bring local farmers and producers together with consumers in places like Kensington, Chester and Southwest Germantown; do Slow Food convivia contribute to these efforts?  How do we best address this apparent flaw in the model?

    Slow Food does an awful lot of that. We are all about making sure markets are created and/or sustained for products that fit the good/clean/fair model.

    And for the record, I'd much rather spend $12/pound on La Quercia Prosciutto (made right here in Iowa) than $100/pound on Iberico any day.

    I'll have the Iberico if I ever get back to Spain. I'm passionate about good food, not silly about it.

  7. What gets me is (and I just learned this), Mr. Sterling now lives in Turin, where the Salone and Terrra Madre take place, just a few miles from Slow Food's birthplace and HQ in Bra. He should know better, yet chooses not to. To be controversial? To tick off overly-sensitive, internet-addicted Slow Food members like me?

  8. The March, 2008 issue of Metropolis focuses on the overarching idea of localism and its relationship to sustainability. It is, as always, a beautiful and well-written issue, but in it one particular columnist, Bruce Sterling, has taken Slow Food to task accusing us once again of that old canard, elitism.

    Now while it is true that the movement is often accused of such things, it is not an accurate accusation, nor is it always such a bad thing anyway. Bear in mind that most of the great social movements throughout history were begun by the so-called “elite,” (witness abolition and suffrage - not to mention that Ghandi was a well-to-do attorney). But the places Mr. Sterling gets it wrong are so manifold it’s hard to know where to start.

    Let’s try here:

    The Cornish Pilchard. The Chilean Blue Egg Hen. The Cypriot Tsamarella and Bosnian Sack Cheese. You haven’t seen these foods at McDon­ald’s because they are strictly local rarities championed by Slow Food, the social movement founded to combat the proliferation of fast food. McDonald’s is a multinational corporation: it retails identical food products on the scale of billions, repeatedly, predictably, worldwide. Slow Food, the self-appointed anti-McDonald’s, is a “revolution” whose aim is a “new culture of food and life.”

    Actually you haven’t seen these foods at McDonald’s because McDonald’s sells hamburgers. Here Mr. Sterling has blundered by believing that who/what Slow Food is is somehow stagnant and monolithic. If such things were true then the US would still be a few puritan slave owners dotted up and down the east coast. Or the Chicago Cubs would have been the National League power for the last century. He goes on…More...

    Slow Food began as a jolly clique of leftist academics, entertainers, wine snobs, and pop stars, all friends of Ital­ian journalist and radio personality Carlo Petrini.

    I’ve often wondered what it is about food and wine that makes those who appreciate it automatically labeled “snobs.” Wine is just fermented grape juice actually one of the simplest foods known to man. Appreciating quality is not snobbery. Pretending to know something one doesn’t actually understand - that’s snobbery. For some reason someone who appreciates the inner workings of a fine internal combustion engine is not a snob, but someone who likes a well made buerre blanc is.

    The group is the suave host for massive international food events in Torino. Other Slow Food emanations include a hotel, various nonprofit foundations, and—in a particularly significant development—a private college. The University of Gastronomic Sciences, founded in 2004, is the training ground for 200-plus international Slow Food myrmidons per year, who are taught to infiltrate farms, groceries, heritage tourism, restaurants, commercial consortia, hotel chains, catering companies, product promotion, journalism, and government. These areas are, of course, where Slow Food already lives.

    My, we are sinister, aren’t we? We are “suave,” and we are “infiltrating” a host of consortia and other institutions (notably journalism, after all, here I am) with our “myrmidons.” (Curious? Yeah, I had to look it up too - despite my apparent position in my ivory tower as an intellectual elite - it means “a follower who carries out orders without question.” Evidently now we’re a cult)

    I’m not sure why Mr. Sterling considers these ideas to be so threatening, but the fact is Slow Food couldn’t care less what the McDonalds and Monsantos of the world do, until they start to crap where we live. In the meantime, we promote these ideas because we believe them to be good ideas worthy of proliferation and preservation. Food defines who we are as individuals and as cultures. We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. The right of ADM or Monsanto, Applebees or Burger King to swing its arms ends at the tip of the eater’s nose. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.

    As the spiritual, political, and ideological wellspring of all things “eco-gastronomic,” Slow Food has woven a set of quiet understandings with the city of Torino, the region of Piedmont, the Italian Foreign Ministry, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

    Sir, due respect and setting aside your constant condescension for a moment, but there’s been nothing “quiet” about it. Logos for those government bodies and organizations are emblazoned on, for example, ALL the literature regarding the Salone Del Gusto, (need proof? click that link) the largest food show of its kind, atracting 200,000 people each year. Oh, and yes, it’s in Italy. The organization was founded there, that’s why. Our last International Leaders’ Congress was held in Puebla, Mexico because preserving the foods and traditions of the so-called “developing” world is at the top of Slow Food’s mission list. We are not as exclusionary as you seem to think.

    In regard to Slow Food’s Presidia project, he had this to say:

    The cleverest innovation to date is the network’s presidium system. The Slow Food “presidia” make up a grassroots bottom-up version of the European “Domain of Control” system, which requires, for instance, that true “champagnes” must come from the province of Champagne, while lesser fizzy brews are labeled mere “sparkling wines.” These presidia have made Slow Food the planetary paladin of local production. Slow Food deploys its convivia to serve as talent scouts for food rarities (such as Polish Mead, the Istrian Giant Ox, and the Tehuacan Amaranth). Candidate discoveries are passed to Slow Food’s International Ark Commission, which decides whether the foodstuff is worthy of inclusion. Its criteria are strict: (a) Is the product nonglobalized or, better yet, inherently nonglobalizable? (b) Is it artisanally made (so there’s no possibility of any industrial economies of scale)? © Is it high-quality (the consumer “wow” factor)? (d) Is it sustainably produced? (Not only is this politically pleasing, but it swiftly eliminates competition from most multinationals.) (e) Is this product likely to disappear from the planet otherwise? (Biodiversity must be served!)

    Sterling seems to think this is being done for our organization’s own aggrandizement, or perhaps even profit. Simply not so. it s being done because, as the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity do clearly states:

    5% of European food product diversity has been lost since 1900

    93% of American food product diversity has been lost in the same time period

    33% of livestock varieties have disappeared or are near disappearing

    30,000 vegetable varieties have become extinct in the last century, and one more is lost every six hours

    The mission of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity is to organize and fund projects that defend our world’s heritage of agricultural biodiversity and gastronomic traditions.

    We envision a new agricultural system that respects local cultural identities, the earth’s resources, sustainable animal husbandry, and the health of individual consumers.

    And yes, Mr. Sterling, biodiversity MUST be served. Nature does not function without it and the industrialization and standardization of food and flavors is a direct threat to that diversity. For those who would like to know the true mission (and criteria) of the Foundation for Biodiversity and the Presidia Projects, please click here.

    It is, among its many other roles, a potent promotion machine. Transforming local rarities into fodder for global gourmets is, of course, profitable. And although he’s no capitalist—the much honored Petrini is more justly described as a major cultural figure—he was among the first to realize that as an economic system globalization destroys certain valuable goods and services that rich people very much want to buy.

    There he goes again, thinking that there is some profit motive behind what we do, like our 501©3 status and clear and concise billing as an educational organization is just some sort of front for gluttonous Nobles Oblige rather that an honest attempt to help preserve flavors, traditions, and ways of life. Does he really believe that mankind’s only choices are get on board with the agribusiness oligarchs or get run over by them? We think not. We think it’s a good idea to try to preserve great food. We think there should be more than one kind of hamburger in the world. More than one flavor of beer. We believe foundations and traditions are important because they make us who we are.

    He concludes:

    But while McDonald’s mechanically peddles burgers to the poor, Slow Food acculturates the planet’s wealthy to the gourmand quality of life long cherished by the European bon vivant. They have about as much in common as an aging shark and a networked swarm of piranhas.

    Yes, McDonald’s does do that, as the overwhelming rates of obesity and diabetes among “the poor” (especially children) so clearly demonstrates. But far from reserving these “cherished” foods of the world for some elite class, Slow Food is working to proliferate them, and to return them to the artisans and yes, often peasants, from which they originated. we seek to make people aware of the connections between food and pleasure on the one hand, and awareness and responsibility on the other.

    Mr. Sterling’s dismissal of Slow Food’s successful efforts as snobbery or elitism rings quite hollow on closer examination of what Slow Food is truly trying to do. I suggest, Mr. Sterling, that you read more, learn more, and perhaps visit Slow Food Nation this coming summer. There you may open your eyes to a food system we call “Good, clean, and fair.”

    “He who distinguishes the true savor of his food,” Thoreau once wrote, “cannot be a glutton. He who does not, cannot be otherwise.”

    Read Mr. Sterling’s entire article here

  9. All of you are familiar with the social networking model in general, and perhaps the Gather.com model specifically.

    Well, I've found a site built like Gather that caters to restaurant professionals.

    It's called FOHBOH.com. If you're in the biz, you know the reference. For the rest of you, the abbreviations in the URL stand for "Front of House" and "Back of House"

    It operates much like Gather, points and all, but it's a lot newer. They have fewer members (around 3,300 right now I think) and more gadgets, bells and whistles. Video, recipes, wine/beer/liquor, cook's complaints, waiter's complaints, restaurant ideas, marketing, and on and on.

    Hope you'll join up!

  10. I'm with all y'all on Fine Cooking and Art of Eating, both fantastic magazines written by people who know what they're talking about, but I gotta put in a plug for all my cohorts of the Edible Communities.

    These are magazines of local food all over the country, and now a couple in Canada. See the list of all of them here

    Get a deal and subscribe to 3 of your choice by clicking here

  11. Oh, and the main Edible website has undergone a makeover.  Looks good.

    I wrote them via the site a couple months ago, as a friend and I would very much like to set up an Edible Silicon Valley. I never heard back. Is there a preferred form of communication?

    Very sorry for my delayed response as well. I've been away from this board for a while. I can hook you up with the right people if you'd like to drop me a PM or an eMail. I'm on k.friese (at) MCHSI (dot) com

  12. <img src="http://cmsimg.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=D2&Date=20071104&Category=ENT02&ArtNo=711040302&Ref=V4&Profile=1039&maxw=490" title="EIRV Autumn 2007" alt="EIRV Autumn 2007" align="right" height="244" hspace="10" vspace="10" width="191" />OK, yes, most of the time that term, "The Paper of Record" refers to the New York Times. With less than 2 months to go to the caucuses and exactly a year to the election, though, right now it belongs to the Des Moines Register. And in the big thick Sunday edition today, splashed all over the cover of the "Life" section, is <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071104/ENT02/711040302&lead=1">an above-the-fold feature</a> on our <a href="http://www.edibleiowa.com/" target="_blank">humble little magazine</a>, written by DMReg staff writer Tom Perry.

    Following some expansive interviews with clients, writers and friends, as well as with Edible Communities co-founder <a href="http://www.ediblecommunities.com/portal/carole-topalian.htm?ed=5" target="_blank">Carole Topalian</a> and <a href="http://www.edibleiowarivervalley.com/pages/about.htm">Edible Iowa River Valley owners</a> Wendy Wasserman and yours truly, Mr. Perry has constructed an in-depth profile of our humble little venture in the Hawkeye State.

    Now this all came about because Mr. Perry was intrigued by a piece Wendy had written (<a href="http://www.ediblechesapeake.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=0#electorate" target="_blank">here in pdf</a>) for our compatriots at <a href="http://www.ediblechesapeake.com/content/index.php">Edible Chesapeake</a>, about where all the "politicos" flooding our state should look for great food in Iowa.

    The other "election" tie-in is what we called in this issue "<a href="http://www.ediblecommunities.com/limesurvey/index.php?sid=48953&lang=en" target="_blank">Iowa's Big Choice</a>." No, we don't mean that one. We mean the 2nd Annual Local Heroes Awards. This is where we recognize the people here who have gone above and beyond the call in their efforts to produce, support and promote great local and artisanal food in Iowa. You can cast your vote <a href="http://www.ediblecommunities.com/limesurvey/index.php?sid=48953&lang=en">here.</a> Not from these parts? That's OK, Edible Communities has your back, with other Local Hero awards going out all over the country, and in a couple parts of Canada. You can find the one closest to you by clicking <a href="http://www.ediblecommunities.com/portal/local-hero-awards.htm" target="_blank">here</a>, then do you civic duty and vote! (The deadline is Dec. 15th).

  13. One of Edible San Francisco's writers gets a plug in today's Times

    "Ms. Guarnaschelli is working on a book with Andy Griffin, a farmer in

    Watsonville, Calif., who wrote for The Santa Cruz Sentinel and now

    contributes to Edible San Francisco, one of 30 free magazines focused

    on local food scenes published by Edible Communities. The magazines

    have become the unofficial literary journals of the farmer-writer


    Read the whole story here

    Awful kind thing for them to say - "the unofficial literary journals of the farmer-writer


    Didn't even know there was such a movement, but we sure are pleased to be a part of it!

  14. Here is the letter Carlo Petrini wrote to CUESA. He wrote and sent this to CUESA BEFORE the meeting with the farmers which went so poorly. CUESA chose, for reasons unknown, not to share this letter with the farmers before that event. I don’t know if they have done so yet.


    Dear CUESA,

    I was quite surprised to learn in the past few days about some negative

    reactions to a passage called *Green California* in my

    just-published book, Slow Food Nation, and wanted to take a moment to

    try to explain my intentions and clarify what I believe happened.

    First of all, I want to apologize for any offense caused by this

    passage, whether to your organization or the many farmers who are your

    members and collaborators. It was absolutely not my intention to

    denigrate or attack the farmers of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market - or

    of any farmers market, for that matter. I hope that you will consider

    the rest of my book, not to mention the range of Slow Food projects I

    have founded over the past twenty years, a testament to the deep

    admiration I feel for the farmers who grow sustainably and depend on the

    direct market economies of farmers markets, both in the United States

    and around the world. The network of farmers and food producers that we

    brought together at Terra Madre has only helped to reinforce how

    strongly I believe in the importance of farmers as defenders of the

    earth and stewards of our future.

    In part, I believe that the translation of this passage was,

    unfortunately, not as accurate as it should have been, and that the

    misinterpretation of certain phrases and the omission of a few key words

    resulted in a tone that differs significantly from the spirit of what I

    wrote in Italian. In fact, my original words were meant to demonstrate

    the positive impression I had of the two farmers with whom I spoke,

    based on their apparent success in making farming a viable livelihood

    for themselves.

    I have also come to realize that this specific passage may be

    vulnerable to misunderstandings when judged outside of the context of

    the chapter in which it resides, not to mention the book in its

    entirety. For this I can only apologize for the imperfections of my own

    writing, in my attempt to explore some of the contradictions that exist

    within the highly relative concept of sustainability.

    The loss of biodiversity in our food supply; the rights of migrant farm

    workers; the elitism argument against organic and artisanal foods; not

    to mention the twin epidemics of obesity and hunger that plague our

    planet, are all contradictions which we need to acknowledge and explore

    in a way that respects multiple cultures and points of view.

    I believe strongly that the only way in which we can overcome these

    contradictions is to create a dialogue where we face these issues with

    an open mind and a generous heart, and I hope that with this in mind, we

    can come to the table together to recognize our common values and chart

    a path forward that unites our work in the pursuit of food that is good,

    clean and fair.

    In friendship/Sincerely/With respect,

    Carlo Petrini


    Slow Food International

  15. C'mon Gulleteers! Don't tell me I've stumped ya! offline I've heard great things like Archie's Waeside in Le Mars (on the way to Rock Rapids) and Beck's Sports Brewery in Cedar Falls, but I'm still looking for the eGullet folks to show me that hidden gem out there!

  16. Team Edible, the official team of Edible Iowa River Valley, is looking for all your best ideas for food, beer, pie, wine, anything Edible and wonderful along the route of RAGBRAI XXXV.

    For those who are unfamiliar, RAGBRAI is the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This year, the route will take us through

    Rock Rapids




    Cedar Falls




    We'll dip our rear tires in the Missouri River, then 6 days later will dip our front tires in the Mississippi. But we're gonna need some calories to burn off. We welcome ideas on:


    Craft Brewed Beer

    Pork Tenderloins




    And anything that's Edible and fantastic.

    Ridden RAGBRAI Before? Tell us about your other food finds

    Riding RAGBRAI this time? Join our team!

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