Every time I begin to speak about Slow Food or Slow Food in Bulgaria, I almost always need to give an explanation on the concept of Slow Food (SF). When I begin to delve further into the ideas of SF and why it is necessary, not only as an international movement, but in Bulgaria and the Balkans as well.
To put it simply, SF is “Good, Clean, Fair Food” but those words are equivocal and still need further clarification. Well, what is “good” food? Food that tastes good, food that is nutritious and there for good for you, food that comes from a place you can feel good about…. What is “clean” food? Food that is grown or produced free of harmful substances, food that is true and exists without external intervention or manipulation (i.e genetically modified organisms; GMO), food that doesn’t carry with it a carbon footprint as long as an around the world fight. Finally, “fair”, food that is produced giving the person responsible for cultivating or creating it a just wage. A living wages, enough money to afford the products they produce. Food that is fair for the consumer as well, with a realistic quality to cost ratio. Real food costs more and people should pay more for it, if they know that they are getting something that is worth the cost. What is the worth of good, clean and fair food? This doesn’t mean that food should be expensive and inaccessible to the lower economic brackets, it means that people should place the cost of food above other frivolous things. You are what you eat.
Slow Food began; in 1986 when a group of people demonstrated to keep McDonald’s from opening a new location on the Spanish Steps in Rome. One of those demonstrators was then journalist Carlos Petrini. Who is currently the President of Slow Food International and inspiration and hero to many people around the world.
Believe it or not Slow Food has been in Bulgaria since 2004. I was started by a few friends that are convinced of values and ideas that SF represents and wanted to devote their time to implementing these concepts around their country.
I became involved in Slow Food Bulgaria in 2010, when I attended my first SF event in Sofia, which was a dinner for Terra Madre Day on December 10th. The menu consisted of traditional and unique Bulgarian food products, like Cherni Vit Cheese, Rhodopi Beaten Cheese and filet Elena.
This past October, 14 delegates from Bulgaria participated in Slow Food’s Terra Madre in Turin, Italy. It was a inspiration and extraordinary experience as I was lucky enough to joins an impressive group of passionate people struggling to promote traditional Bulgarian food and protect its culinary heritage.
The concept of Slow Food is sometimes difficult to grasp, the name of the organization leads people to believe that it is all about eating slow, which is true, but it is not only about taking the time to savory your meal, it is also about understanding where the food that you are eating comes from and the philosophy behind the person growing the ingredients and preparing them. All of these components contribute to Slow Food, but it is not limited to these points alone.
For quite sometime, Bulgaria and Bulgarians have shunned village life and agriculture, but the future of Bulgaria lies in the development of agriculture and by this development I don’t mean the use of GMO’s or the mono-cultural agricultural systems, which rape and destroy the land and environment; I am talking about the small scale farmers that are producing quality ingredients. Bulgaria was given a gift and that gift is the land. The richness of the soil and ideal climate produces a bounty that is ethereal. This needs to be protected and preserved for future generations as well as shared with the world, but first people need to learn the value of what they have and take pride in it. This is the first step to revitalizing this vocation. Slow Food understands these issues and works towards promoting them.