Terra Madre, slow food, Cittaslow … What’s the deal with all those names?
“It’s all about creating community, about why we all live here in this special place,” says chef and proprietor of Joy Road Catering Dana Ewart when asked to explain Terra Madre, the slow food movement and Naramata’s Cittaslow designation. “There are a lot of terms used to describe what we are all about and our philosophy around feeding people with great food but it can be much more approachable and less cerebral. It comes down to people sitting around a table enjoying themselves.
“For me personally, I get the most energy and joy out of creating beautiful food and sharing it with people,” says Dana and she has been doing this for more than 20 years.
Saturday December 10 is Terra Madre Day. With its origins in Italy, the land where food is worshipped and quality of life vigorously defended, Terra Madre is a network of food communities of small-scale food producers committed to producing quality food in a responsible and sustainable way. Translated as Mother Earth, the slow food network has biennial conferences bringing together farmers, fishers, food producers and cooks. Dana and her partner Cam Smith have attended two of these conferences. “We have brought back so many ideas about how we can better share and showcase our regional cuisine.”
Terra Madre Day promotes the diversity of food traditions and production. It’s a day to show how our network is using its creativity and knowledge to express our love for the planet and defend the future for next generations. It’s a day to celebrate local eating, agricultural biodiversity and sustainable food production summed up as good, clean and fair food.
As far at Terra Madre goes in Canada, Naramata gets it.
We get it so much that we are one of only three Canadian communities with a special status as a “slow city” bestowed on us by Cittaslow, an international organization formed in Orvieto Italy in 1999. We join Cowichan Bay and Wolfville as places where the pace of life is a bit more human.
To quote from the charmingly translated Italian on the Cittaslow website, “A Cittaslow place is motivated by curious people of a recovered time, where man is still protagonist of the slow and healthy succession of seasons, respectful of citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and good food, rich of fascinating craft traditions, of valuable works of art, squares, theatres, shops, cafes and restaurants. These are places of the spirit and unspoiled landscapes characterized by spontaneity of religious rites and respect the traditions of the joy of slow and quiet living.”
Terra Madre Day Cooking Class
Slow food or local food of high quality with connection to the local land made into traditional recipes where the community comes together is what it’s all about and this year we are marking Terra Madre day by hosting the first of a series of cooking class. The Naramata-Blend classes bring together Okanagan Valley chefs, local ingredients and people passionate about food who will cook together and eat together.
The Terra Madre Day inaugural class lead by Chef Dana, will focus on brioche in its many wonderful forms including the unveiling of a new Naramata Loaf recipe (recipe will be shared in an upcoming post) featuring local dried fruits and nuts. Mulled wine made from Cliffhanger Red from Naramata Bench Winery Association featured member Moraine Winery and warm spiced apple and cherry juice from orchardists Amanda Perez and CC Orchards will keep the slow food convivia fuelled as we learn to bake this special buttery egg bread.
“Ten years ago fewer restaurants in the Valley were using local produce in their restaurants,” says Dana. Now a lot of us are using are only using pretty much everything produced here. It takes a lot more effort but the quality of what we have here is amazing and the caliber of the producers and chefs is incredible.”
She says she has made it her mission to spread the word about the Terra Madre principals that were first ingrained at the Stratford Chef School where she learned her craft and to let other young people know that the Okanagan Valley is a great place to set up shop to produce and prepare amazing food.
“We (Dana and her partner Cam Smith and their business Joy Road Catering) have shown that its possible to have a successful business. Our community here is very supportive. We are a product of this great community coupled with our hard work.”
Dana is also passionate about trying to expand our way of thinking about the importance of food and those who produce and prepare it for us.
“Professionals with special skills are appreciated. For example, we hold our doctors, accountants and lawyers in regard and pay them well for our occasional visit or meeting. How often do we eat? Why not offer our farmers that same high regard?”
She has a point.
Thoughts over dessert
Some final thoughts about Terra Madre, slow food, Cittaslow…
Alice Waters, the famous Californian slow foodie, gives us this sweet slow food manifesto:
- Eat locally and sustainably
- Eat seasonally
- Shop at farmer’s markets
- Plant a garden
- Conserve, compost and recycle
- Cook together
- Eat together
- Remember food is precious