Monday, December 14, 2009

Celebrate Eating Locally-Terra Madre Day at Cantina Astroni, December 10



I really didn’t feel like going out Thursday evening. I had papers to grade, it was cold, and the last time I went to Cantina Astroni in Agnano, my car started to slide as I drove up the very steep driveway. I even got stuck in traffic on the way between Varcaturo and Licola. But, I continued on. I’m glad I did.

Last week, I wrote about my impressions of slow food. I learned Thursday evening that my thoughts were only the tip of the iceberg. I was treated to a mini lesson on Terra Madre (mother earth) and Slow Food by experts from the Campi Flegrei area.

The evening began with a short film on Terra Madre-a movement that highlights the importance that we, citizens of the planet earth, have a responsibility to take care of the earth so that it can take care of us. Highlights from a Terra Madre convention in Turin, Italy in 2008 showed speakers pushing their local products and their livelihoods. One speaker in the film said that if the land is sick, we become sick. A point well taken considering the problems with pollution in the Campania region.

Hostess Emanuela Russo introduced a series of guests who shared their experiences and points of view. I only have space to mention a few here.

What a treat to hear from Stefano Pagliuca. He spoke of his Slow Food philosophy, focusing on tradition. How he learned pizza making from his mother and how he transformed her passion into his. His use of ‘lievito madre’ or mother yeast (a topic for another blog), copper pans, wood burning pizza oven and a great determination and drive make his pizzas and breads some of the best in Naples. Stefano’s pizzas are a must on our menu for Ciao Vino’s Winerdì series.

Another noteworthy figure was Luigi Di Meo (Vicenza’s dad from La Sibilla). He did not talk about his wine that evening, but discussed la cicerchia, a bean that has all but disappeared from the mainstream. A soup prepared with this legume was on the buffet table afterwards. I had two helpings!!

Ferdinando Salemme from Abraxas (an osteria in Pozzuoli) had several points he wanted to drive home. He feels that it is extremely important to have a strong relationship with the land. The product comes afterward. He bases the menus at his locale on what is available at kilometer zero-his own neighborhood. Nando stressed that we need to educate the new generation-they are the future of our territory.

What event on Slow Food would be without a grande buffet? Besides a wide variety of Stefano’s pizza, and the soup made with la cicerchia, we had a great marinated pumpkin dish, and a lasagna prepared by La Campagna de Ragu (Giugliano) to name a few. All this accompanied by Astroni’s Piedirosso and Falanghina.

I left that evening with a desire to learn more about Slow Food (www.slowfood.com). I left that evening with a craving to discover not only the recipes, but the methods, that as one speaker put it, which must be passed on. This afternoon I will go grocery shopping. I will remember what Nando said about kilometer zero and think twice as I fill my basket.

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