What Is Slow Food > Slow Food USA Blog
Posted on Thu, June 07, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Slow Fish, Slow Food’s campaign for sustainable fish on how to get the catch of the day every day.
Written by Slow Food International
The fresher the fish, the better, for taste and health.
Unfortunately, labels are not particularly helpful. For example, in the European Union it is not currently required to indicate the catch date, though the possibility of making it obligatory is being discussed by the European Commission. For now, how could the European consumer know that the fillet of Nile perch sold as fresh was actually caught in Central Africa 12-16 days earlier? How many people are aware that many fish species from Asia are sold in Europe and North America as fresh, even though they may have been frozen and defrosted more than once?
Posted on Wed, May 09, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Peggy Markel reflects on her years of connecting food, culture, people and travel with the principles of Slow Food.
I first encountered Slow Food in the small Village of Scansano, in southern Tuscany, on a crisp spring day in 1993 with the countryside painted pink in olive tree blossoms. My friend Janet Hansen, an American who had lived in Italy for 30 years, had just finished surveying her olive trees and harvesting a few artichokes for lunch when I pulled up. I knew my way around Tuscany well at this point, perfecting my Italian enough to ask questions and understand the answers. I’d witnessed my own culinary travel program in the hills outside of Florence flourish that year. I’d met farmers who made fresh pecorino (100% sheeps milk cheese) with an old stirring stick, forming it into straw basket molds. I’d seen firsthand the curious relationship between farmer and animal, and the affection with which a small enough farm treats the flock. Tillo could just call his sheep back to the barn in the evenings, no dog necessary. To fatten the pigs with something hearty, Signor Valentini fed them chestnuts.
Italy remains a place of preserved traditions, especially with Carlo Petrini and his friends bringing attention to the importance of protecting these old ways. In the last twenty years, I have noticed the terrible beauty of transition from the traditional to the contemporary. Cars now fill ancient piazzas with exhaust and noise. Urban sprawl has forced farmland to become scarce. We make room for commerce, shipping food from large agro farms and forfeiting the possibility of growing our own. We work too hard, eat on the run and complain to our doctors that we don’t feel well. Families break down. There is also this painful truth.
Posted on Sat, March 17, 2012 by Slow Food USA
A first attempt at corned beef, a quest for authentically preserving cultural tradition.
Written by Tim Smith, Slow Food USA’s Associate Manager of New Media
Last night I made corned beef and cabbage for the first time in my life. To be honest, it was the first time anyone in my family has made the dish, to my knowledge. This will come as some surprise to those who know me as someone who fully embraces his Irish-American heritage, but carrying on the Irish culinary tradition has never been a priority in our kitchen. That’s not to say we were without our ancestral culture. It’s hard to avoid it growing up Irish-Catholic in a working- class Irish neighborhood in an incredibly Irish city, but it was never something we sought out.
There certainly were little things, though—my mother, the daughter of an Irish immigrant from County Cork, drilled into my head that each dinner must include 3 things: meat, potatoes, and milk. This caused some confusion when I was introduced to the food pyramid in school and saw no potato section. My grandfather brought these “Irish food groups” from the farm in Cork to his family in the US and left most everything else there, but I yearned for something more authentic – I wanted brown bread and jam, the Dubliners on soundtrack, and whiskey in the jar. What I got was supermarket-brand bread, the Monkees, and two parents who didn’t drink.
Posted on Thu, March 15, 2012 by Slow Food USA
All you hear about these days is going green. On St. Patrick’s Day this Saturday, you’ll be called on to wear green. Now, Slow Food USA member and author, Cheryl Sternman Rule, shows you how to eat green, literally.
Written by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Slow Food USA member and author of the new cookbook, Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables
Green as a word has become so closely aligned with notions of environmental stewardship that we’ve forgotten its most common meaning. Before it promised that your detergent was nontoxic and your dry cleaner renounced plastic death-sacks, before it denoted sustainability, responsibility, and eco-friendly-ability, the word green meant, you know, green. As in, the color of moss, that dollar in your wallet, and a big, shiny Granny Smith apple, the one just waiting for a smear of peanut butter or a fat hunk of cheese.
It’s time to celebrate the best and, literally, greenest offerings to come—at the farm stand, in the produce aisle, and in your own garden. With the approach of St. Patrick’s Day and spring waving hello, let’s momentarily sidestep the corned beef and give almost-here green vegetables their due. (Cabbage will get plenty of love this week, so I’ll skip it below.)
Posted on Thu, February 16, 2012 by Slow Food USA
Armed with a little know-how and a $20 grocery budget, is it possible to think outside of the box meal?
Written by Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table
When I finished the undercover reporting for my first book, The American Way of Eating, a couple of years ago I found myself with an unexpected problem. The first round of reporting was done, as was my modest advance, but the writing and secondary reporting remained. I was stuck: As low as my wages had been picking garlic in California fields, stocking Walmart produce bins outside of Detroit, and portioning sides in an Applebee’s kitchen in New York, there had been, at least, wages. Now I had a few thousand dollars in savings and a year’s worth of work to do; money, and my grocery budget, was going to be tight.
What this meant was a creative reengagement with the idea of what it means to be broke in America, and what it might mean for my meals. One of the things that saved me was a childhood favorite: Hamburger Helper.
I know what you’re thinking: Hamburger Helper? A box meal? But allow me to make my case: One-dish meals have long been the go-to food for cooks working with limited time and money. Think chicken and dumplings, any kind of stew, and even America’s great casseroles. And while today we might startle in surprise at meal based on a flavor packet, the concept it represents—eat well, quickly, and affordably—is something I wholly endorse. So I posed myself challenge: Could I beat the box? Could I, as a cook of some skill if not wealth, make a quality meal as quickly, and more cheaply, than a box of Hamburger Helper?
Posted on Fri, November 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a complex food system with a new cookbook, Eat Good Food.
by Slow Food USA intern Kate Northway
As our food system becomes more complex and consumers are taking an interest in the politics of production, supermarket aisles become more perplexing to navigate. Thankfully, Sam Mogannam, of Bi-Rite Market, and Dabney Gough, have created the perfect recipe for a new cookbook, Eat Good Food. Alongside delicious meal ideas, Sam provides a commentary on how to shop for the highest quality foods. From produce to meat to breads and beer, Sam covers every part of a meal.
With the book in tow, I headed to my local market to see how the Bi-Rite book could help me craft a meal for a few friends. Throughout the book, Mogannam and Gough push the reader to become an active shopper, asking grocery store staff questions about where each product originates. The authors stress the importance of becoming a more conscious shopper as a way to become a better chef in the kitchen. After scanning the book, I had picked out three recipes: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Caper Lemon Butter, the Pescado Veracruzana and Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Glaze. All three recipes used simple ingredients easy to find at most stores.
Brussels sprouts have never been at the top of my list of favorite vegetables, so I wanted to see if Mogannam and Gough could turn me into a sprout fan. Using their advice, I looked for sprouts that were smaller, as they would produce a sweeter and more tender dish, and roasted the sprouts to obtain the most flavor.
While my local market has a bounty of produce, high quality cheeses and unique canned goods, the fish selection is sparse, selling mostly salmon and tuna. Unfortunately, this meant I couldn’t find the rockfish called for in the Pescado Veracruzano recipe. Instead, I decided to put the rest of the ingredients on top of farfalle, allowing me to use the authors’ tips for serving up some delicious pasta.
I already had most of the ingredients for the chocolate cake, but was missing the star of the show: chocolate. The sweet aisle in the store had plenty of organic, artisan bittersweet chocolate, but all were not in my price range. Sam and Dabney note that most grocery stores have large, random-weight pieces in the deli section that they weigh and price themselves and are almost always a better value than the bars or chips in the baking aisle. Plus, the large blocks of chocolate have a longer shelf life.
Posted on Thu, November 10, 2011 by Emily Vaughn
Check out our Thanksgiving guide for recipes, tips, tricks, and more.
This Thanksgiving we’re giving thanks to each and every person who works to make for a good, clean, and fair food available to everyone. Whether you’re packing your daughter’s lunch every day, managing a school garden, holding an endangered foods potluck, or reading Fast Food Nation together with friends, we’re moved and inspired by the surge of interest this movement has seen in the past year and the extraordinary work being done around the country and around the world.
We wanted to give something back, so we thought about what kinds of things people ask us for most and the number one thing is information about how to “go slow.” Cooking with fresh, local, seasonal, and heirloom foods is exciting and delicious, but it can be hard to know where to start. “What’s so special about heritage turkeys?” “Where can I buy them?” “I like the idea of using heirloom foods but I don’t know how to cook with them.” “Can I have a Slow Food meal that doesn’t cost a fortune?”
Our Thanksgiving 2011 Guide is here to help. It’s meant to help you:
We hope this is helpful, and if you have questions or suggestions email thanksgiving [at] slowfoodusa.org
Thanks again, and we wish you and your loved ones a holiday full of cheer and good eats.
Posted on Tue, October 18, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Slow Food Chicago is helping its community enjoy the bounty year round. Canning and preserving workshops have kicked off and will be continuing through the winter months. It’s amazing what some cookware, fresh food and willing hands can do!
Submitted by Slow Food Chicago Leader Jennifer Breckner. Photos by Megan Larmer
The Summer months here in Chicago are definitely bountiful. And, through a partnership with Slow Food USA, Anolon Cookware is helping us extend that bounty to the other seasons. Slow Food Chicago hears all the time that our community wants hands-on food production workshops; they want a sense of self-sufficiency and they want to learn! Particularly important to us are affordable opportunities that demystify the canning process, extend the harvest throughout the year, and that connect individuals with local produce on an intimate level.
Anolon stepped in to support this great cause, generously providing Slow Food Chicago with over $1,000 in cookware and utensils to start up a pilot canning and preservation program, which will be held seasonally, throughout the year. The first two workshops, organized by Megan Larmer, Slow Food Chicago board member, and Samantha Radov, workshop instructor, were held over the summer at Logan Square Kitchen, a “shared kitchen” that supports local entrepreneurs getting their start. As a bonus, it’s the only LEED Gold private event space in Chicago.
“Anolon’s donation is invaluable. By not having to purchase cookware, we made a profit on the first workshop. We also were able to plan the entire series at once, knowing the equipment will last. Now we can begin improving the workshops with the very next installment. This gift ensures the longevity and success of the workshop series,” explained Larmer.
Slow Food Chicago received an enthusiastic response to the canning classes, which sold out quickly. Thirty people joined instructor Radov, a Slow Food enthusiast and pastry chef at Publican, to can tomatoes. The workshops were fun, informative, and absolutely messy. As one person said, “I’m interested in the sourcing of my food, and preserving it for myself. I never knew [that] I liked tomatoes until I had “real” one. FOOD IS SO COOL!”
We agree! Holding these canning workshops was for some a way to connect with near-forgotten family traditions, and for others a time to start a new one. Slow Food Chicago is excited for its future workshops: apples in November, citrus in February, and rhubarb in May. Onward!
Posted on Fri, October 14, 2011 by Slow Food USA
The Cultiva Youth Project and Slow Food Boulder have teamed up with Anolon Cookware to provide top-notch cooking education and leadership opportunities in North Boulder. Here, teens get to cook and eat together, as well as learn from their peers. And, of course, brand new cookware doesn’t hurt!
Submitted by Ellie Goldberg of Growing Gardens’ Cultiva Youth Project
Here at Growing Gardens’ Cultiva Youth Project we are so thankful for our ongoing partnership with Slow Food Boulder! Each spring and summer, Cultiva youth participate in Slow Food cooking classes with local chefs, preparing meals at our garden in north Boulder, at the market, and in a downtown church kitchen. Slow Food recruits the chefs, purchases the ingredients, and helps staff the class. This time around, Anolon Cookware has given us the pots and pans.
The chefs choose recipes that use the vegetables the Cultiva youth grow at our organic market garden. Cultiva teens come from all walks of life; participants come from all socio-economic levels and represent a diverse cross section of Boulder County youth in all ways. Many of the teens have never prepared an entire meal from scratch, especially using vegetables they grew and under the guidance of a professional chef. Slow Food cooking classes are definitely a highlight of working at Cultiva; the teens love working together in the kitchen, learning new techniques and recipes from a pro, and above all, sitting together and enjoying a tasty home-cooked meal. To see a documentary about our Cultiva summer program, click here!
Thanks to Anolon’s generous donation of top-notch cooking supplies, we were also able to offer 6 youth-led cooking classes in the garden. The teens harvested vegetables and prepared garlic scape pesto, kale chips, and zucchini pancakes. The youth loved cooking using the shiny new tools!
But that’s not all we’ve been up to! This season, we had the opportunity to visit Shamane’s Bake Shoppe and bake with Shamane herself, prepare pizzas at the market with Antonio Laudisio, make kale tacos with Rayme and Serena on the Comida taco truck, and prepare a meal at the church with Tim Payne of Terroir. We’re excited to keep on growing.
Posted on Thu, September 29, 2011 by Slow Food USA
Guess who’s getting in on the $5 Challenge?
Just two weeks after 30,000 of you came together and took the $5 Challenge, the Partnership for a Healthier America—the foundation created for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign—has announced they’re up to the challenge, too.
On November 29th, White House Chef Sam Kass will be hosting two cooking events designed to highlight that healthy food can be affordable and quick to prepare. In the first event, chefs will prepare a family meal on just $10 (typical SNAP budget for a family dinner); in the second, they will have chefs preparing healthy, three-course “gourmet” meals on a typical American dinner budget—$4.50 per person.
We are extremely excited that the White House is interested in pushing forward the dialogue on how cooking from scratch can be the most affordable and healthy option. And, lucky dogs, they’ve got a treasure trove of tips and tricks—compiled by you, the Slow Food community—available to them on our tumblr page.
We’d also like to see Kass, guest chefs Colicchio and others, as well as the Obamas, really dig deep into what’s really possible on that $4.50. What we heard from all of you was that:
...Whether you had a personal garden
Whether you are a farmer
Whether your friends and neighbors are farmers
Whether you belong to a CSA
Whether you live near a farmers market or good grocery
...all made a huge difference in terms of succeeding at the $5 Challenge. And not everyone has a CSA nearby or the space and time to start their own garden.
We hope the White House’s Great American Family Dinner Challenge acknowledges this “challenge” side of the issue, too. When federal policy is subsidizing the foods that are worst for us, and it’s easier in many communities to buy Froot Loops than it is to buy real fruit, it’s no wonder that cooking affordable meals is more challenging than it should be. Addressing those challenges is going to take all of us working together with the White House to fix the policies that stand in the way of making food truly good, clean, and fair for all.
Slow Food International also runs a publishing company, Slow Food Editore, which specializes in tourism, food and wine. The library now contains about 40 titles and houses Slow, the award-winning quarterly herald of taste and culture, available in five languages: Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.