Discovering the Riches of Asia and Oceania at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012

Over 250 farmers, artisans, chefs and young people from Asia and Oceania are participating in the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre this October to showcase the rich food biodiversity of their region. The delegation is represented in the international Marketplace with Slow Food Presidia stands and a range of other products, and will participate in numerous Taste Workshops, conferences, educational activities and a biodiversity area. Some delegates will also participate in the Slow Food International Congress, held every five years to bring together the association’s local leaders and decide upon strategies for the future of Slow Food, the Terra Madre network and projects to defend biodiversity.

A highlight of Asia and Oceania’s presence in the Marketplace will be the Slow Food Presidia projects:

Unzen Takana Vegetable from Japan, a leafy green vegetable tied to local identity and gastronomy; Rimbàs Black Pepper from Malaysia, traditionally grown by the Ibans indigenous people; Herat Abjosh Raisin from Afghanistan, which has been cultivated for over 500 years; Dehradun Basmati Rice from India, grown using traditional techniques at the foot of the Himalayas; and Lifou Island Taro and Yam, New Caledonia, two staple products of the Kanak peoples’ diet.

Many products from the Ark of Taste – Slow Food’s catalogue of threatened small-scale quality products – will also be showcased, including Mountain Forest Pu’er Tea from China, traditionally grown in one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet; Kusamba Sea Salt from Indonesia, obtained from mineral-rich beds of organic sands and pristine seas; three varieties of rice from the Philippines; and Multi Floral Forest Honey from India. Learn more about the fascinating story of the Forest Honey harvesters here.

The journey to discover the richness of Asia and Oceania’s agricultural biodiversity continues with an exhibition space dedicated to four staple products that make up the daily diet of billions of people: millet, rice, spices and tubers. The area is an occasion to visualise the diversity of these products and will feature, for example a display with 115 different rice varieties from 15 Asian countries. Learn more about the extraordinary biodiversity of Asian rices here.

Visitors also have the chance to learn about the Mumbai Earth Market, Asia’s first farmers’ market to join this Slow Food program. The market connects the city with organic farmers across the state of Maharashtra, providing access to fresh, organically certified, fruits and vegetables directly from farmers every Sunday.

New to the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre is the International Kitchen: renowned chefs from Australia, Bhutan, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and various African and Middle Eastern countries will take turns to cook traditional dishes for event visitors. Delegates of Slow Food in South Korea are also hosting a kitchen space within their own stand. In the area visitors can take part in performances, demonstrations of Buddhist temple cuisine and learn more about the traditional Korean concept of food as medicine.

As always, food education is a central part of the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, with a wide range of Taste Workshops and other activities involving producers, chefs and ingredients from Asia and Oceania. In the Taste Workshop Spices of India, renowned chef Manjit Singh will pass on his expertise in spices and highlight their importance in the kitchen as well as for health. To learn more about the history of spices and the spice trade that connected Asia and Europe, both adults and children can take part in three workshops hosted by the Slow Food Education team. 

The Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre also provides an important space for the exchange of information, experiences and expert knowledge on a wide range of issues around food, the environment and social justice. On October 26 at 12pm, the conference Indigenous Peoples and Local Food Sovereignty, moderated by Phrang Roy of the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and with the participation of Mirna Cunnigham of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, will talk about the importance of supporting the rights of Indigenous peoples and the negative consequences that globalization, climate change and food aid programs have on their right to food sovereignty and the preservation of their skills. The Traditional Rices in Asia and Oceania appointment will bring together rice producers from the Philippines, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia and will look at the diversity of rice varieties and how rice cultivation is intrinsically linked with culture, spirituality and the way of life of communities.

In the conference The Grassroots of the Revolution: Edible Education, that will tackle the pressing issue of food education for today’s youth, Namrati Bali from SEWA, the Self-Employed Women’s Association, will talk about their community radio program on traditional foods and projects in support of women in local communities in India. Also participating in the conference is Hayu Dyah, from Indonesia, who works for Mantasa, an organization involved in the exploration of edible wild plants used in Indonesia and food education for children and their mothers.

This year Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre will give special attention to Japan and the efforts underway to rebuild Slow Food communities and activities hit by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last year. Slow Food Japan’s stand in the Marketplace will present its projects in support of producers and farmers that are working to ensure local vegetable varieties and traditional recipes are not lost. Several Japanese Terra Madre food communities will be present, including the Ginza and Sendai Beekeepers, who work with native Japanese honey bees, Tankaku Cattle Breeders, Growers of Akka Daikon from Akka and the Unzen Takana Vegetable producers.

In the conference How The Yamagata Community Came Together to Save Its Biodiversity, director Watanabe Satoshi will present his documentary Reviving Recipes, which tells the story of how chef Masayuki Okuda worked together with the youth of Yamagata and Professor Egashira Hiroaki to bring a community together to save its gastronomic biodiversity. Yamagata is one of the prefectures on the island of Honsu, one of Japan’s largest islands that is home to many local products including traditional rice varieties, zusayama radicchio and tonojima cucumber.

Two Taste Workshops are devoted to Japan:

On October 26, Terada Masaru of Terada-Honke, one of the historic sake producers based in Kozaki, will present his Daigo no Shizuku sakes in the workshop Hakko No Sato: Japanese Fermentation. Made according to an ancient process, the sakes will be paired with small dishes based on savory koji and the fine lees of sake, prepared by others from this small community. On October 28, the focus will be on the Tohoku region in the workshop Tohoku’s Sakes, where participants can taste sakes from Ninki’ichi, Otokoyama, Hoyo and Urakasumi presented by influential critic Haruo Matsuzaki, and paired with typical foods chosen by Nami Fukutome, a food journalist and sake expert. The workshop is organized in collaboration with the Slow Food Fukushima, Miyagi and Kesennuma convivia.

Finally, two special dinners are set for October 26 and 27 and will be a rare opportunity to taste 12 different types of sake combined with a special menu prepared by Chef Takashi Kido. Chef Kido is a traditionally trained Japanese chef who traveled to Spain to master modern cuisine techniques, and went on to open KIDO-ism restaurant in Turin, with a distinctive fusion approach. For further information on the dinner: [email protected]

Details of the program and entrance tickets are available here.

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