At the start of October, our Director of Food Education Kelly McGlinchey participated in Slow Food International’s Terra Madre Giovani summit in Milan. The following post is the second in her mini-series “(Slow) Food for Thought”, cross-posted on the Slow Food NYC blog.
Standing in a long and winding line with several hundred hungry delegates, I slowly approach a table arranged with pre-bundled pasta salads, fresh rolls dusted with flour, and wooden crates of stone fruits. It’s lunchtime on the second day of Terra Madre Giovani and as is only natural in a crowd of international foodies, conversations quickly arise in flavorful bursts of various dialects and mother tongues as we await the highly-anticipated gratification of mealtime.
On this particular occasion, I had the happy happenstance of standing beside the delegation of Indonesia’s Slow Food Youth Network – four farmers turned friends whose journey to We Feed the Planet marked their first visit to Europe. We quickly struck up a conversation about their work back home and their involvement in the Slow Food Youth Network. Taken in by the unaffected enthusiasm of these four, a small group of the U.S. delegates and I sat down with our lunches in the main conference hall.
This being my first time to Italy I was taken in by the simple delicacy of every meal over the course of the four-day summit, and frankly impressed by the sheer fact that Slow Food Youth International had been able to provide any food at all. The conference had been organized in a mere six months with over 2,500 delegates assembled… (Many thanks to the farmers, bakers and chefs whose creativity made this possible!)
My new friends from Indonesia were, shall we say, a bit more hesitant to embrace the Italian diet. While grateful, they missed the spices and flavors of home and I heard on more than one occasion a subtle utter of longing for Asian food, of any kind.
I shouldn’t have been surprised then when Emi, a young mushroom farmer from Bali, broke out a package of what can most easily be equated to jerk chicken spices, and Dhana to her right pulled out a container of chili powder. Both were casually passed around amongst the four, each generously dusting their pasta dish with flakes of red, copper, and gold. Sensing our eyes upon them, Dhana and Emi looked up with a smile and extended the coveted goods stashed from home. “Do you want to try some?”
They didn’t have to ask twice. All bowls were soon a colorful blend of Italian and Indonesian culinary influence, and were shared over stories of the food and flavors of home. With bright eyes and easy laughter, the Indonesian delegates tried to explain the olfactory adventure of breaking into a ripe durian – known in Southeast Asia as the King of Fruits and a personal favorite of mine (though it is banned in the subways of Singapore for its offensive odor). In exchange, the American delegates told tales of ancient grains, autumnal squash, and apple picking.
In essence, this small circle of American and Indonesian youth created a global table that has me smiling as I write this.
Each story of the young food professionals and producers gathered at Terra Madre Giovani gave new reason to believe that indeed we possess every capability of cultivating a secure, just, and healthy food future.
In an effort to share that inspiration with you, here are four snapshots of the Terra Madre youth delegates and where you can follow them to learn more!
- Emma Zimmerman, USA, co-founder & grower of hand-cultivated ancient grains at Hayden Flour Mills @haydenflourmills
- Dhana Baeq, Indonesia, founder of Jogja Organic markets @jogjaorganic
- Linnea Burnham, USA, 13th generation Vermont farmer & current world traveler studying artisanal cheese production across 3 continents (Yes, you read that right). Follow her travels at Journeys of a Cheese Girl
- Tessa Terbasket, Canada, Slow Fish advocate & youth environmentalist from the Okanagan Nation. Follow Slow Food Youth Canada @SFYNCA
- For even more stories of Slow Food change makers, visit www.wefeedtheplanet.com/en/stories
Check back soon for more stories from the ground at Terra Madre Giovani We Feed the Planet.