COVID-19: Throughout Eastern Europe and Asia Local Slow Food Networks Adapt to New Challenges

Even in times of the worldwide lockdowns, hundreds of local Slow Food groups across the globe show examples of #SlowFoodSolidarity. Many Slow Food small-scale farmers, producers and restaurants had to adapt to new challenges, posted by the COVID-19 crisis. Despite quarantines and lockdowns, Slow Food groups throughout Eastern Europe and Asia reacted quickly and found ways to provide local communities with food, local seeds, and encourage people to be supportive of a good, clean and fair food system.


Slow Food Youth Network in Kazakhstan has launched the #BauyrsakAtHome challenge and asks everyone to join and make these traditional doughnuts together.  Bauyrsak is a traditional flour product, which is prepared from fresh or yeast dough in the form of small doughnuts (diamond-shaped or round), which are deep-fried in the Kazan, a kind of traditional fryer.


Julia Fominykh, an indigenous member of Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance and a leader of Slow Food Community in the Republic of Mountain Altai, was forced to close her restaurant “Typography” amid the new coronavirus. However, the restaurant did not stop its activities completely. Instead, it launched a new home delivery model “A Gastronomic Tour Around the World”. The restaurant has developed a menu based on different traditional dishes from around the world, using local products, in particular foods high in vitamins. Among various different dishes, the restaurant suggests trying a classic Singaporian Pho Bo soup with beef, or Greek salad and bread with Tzatziki sauce. 

“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow. For four years, we have been doing what we love the most – preparing food for our guests. Today, we offer a new menu, which has delicious dishes from around the world, and offer our virtual guests to go on a gastronomic journey without leaving home,” says Julia.

In Suzdal, a town near Moscow, customers can buy delicious farm cottage cheese made of goat milk for Orthodox Easter, a traditional dish of this holiday. Slow Food’s member Svetlana Eremina came up with the idea to offer a contactless way to buy cheese right at the door of the farm, which is part of the Slow Food in Russia project #TastyRoute.

Meanwhile, in Karelia, the only Presidium of Slow Food in Russia had to stop its plans to give the whole series of lectures about salt due to the imposed quarantine. However, salt makers Olga Yagodina and Ilya Peredriy are not discouraged, they still keep working by making salt remotely thanks to the automatically programmed furnaces. Although their work had to slow down, the salt makers have fresh wet salt which is going to be taken to dry as soon as the quarantine is lifted. The salt makers talked about their family business during the quarantine with the Russian State TV.


Larissa Tytykalo, a member of the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance in Ukraine and an author of a book with gastronomic recipes and stories from the Bessarabian region, publishes daily recipes of dishes and desserts, which can be made from local products, offering everyone to become a chef in their kitchen. In addition, she initiated the delivery of local products of the Bessarabian region throughout Ukraine. Among the unique products, which Ukranians can order online – you can find Danube herring, a product of the Ark of Taste, spices with the taste of the sea, steppe, herbs, flowers of Southern Bessarabia and, of course, the main marker of the local Bessarabian cuisine – Brynza cheese! 

Larissa’s “Brynzarnya” became a part of a virtual journey through Odessa’s “Roads of Wine and Taste”. So far, these high quality family farm products can be ordered online, but it is expected that after the quarantine these family farms with traditional and unique products like Brynza cheese will become part of real gastronomic tours.

Another inspiring example was shared by Tetyana Sitnik, community leader of Slow Food and of the Seed Treasure of Ukraine project initiator decided to move traditional seed fairs into virtual mode and launched the Spring 2020 Challenge, which encourages customers to buy and sell seeds of local varieties directly from farmers, orchards and selection centers through a group on Facebook.


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