Date: 10-12-2014

A Snail of Thought for December

Spending a Slow Christmas with more time, traditions and tastier meals. 
 
By now I’m already a little overexposed to the onslaught of Christmas merchandise in the shops, the music on air and the general premature merriment. By the time December comes around I’m bound to be struggling to find my festive spirit on top of those last minute gift-making and travelling deadlines.
 
But this year I’m packing a secret weapon thanks to a friendly snail that was the center of celebration back in October. 
 
It may be just another fancy word to some but the Slow Food Festival’s Salone Del Gusto is a biennial event
that attracts over 1,000 exhibitors who share the most intimate details of their food, their culture and some forgotten gems. It’s a food lovers’ dream and this year in Turin, Italy the planet’s largest food festival allowed visitors to sample an astonishing array of traditional food from passionate producers around the world.
 
Today is Slow Food’s second major festival Terra Madre Day allows producers to highlight forgotten foods. Each year fruits and vegetables, animal breeds, cheeses, and methods of preparation disappear or are forgotten. Terra Madre is the world’s chance to remember, regain and rediscover the delightful flavours of traditional food. 
 
For me the beauty of the Slow Food movement is not just the food – it’s about inspiring a way of life and a way of how we think, behave and adapt. Today Slow Food includes a bigger family that involves Slow Fish, Slow Travel and even Slow Money. 
 
And yet to a constantly rushing Sri Lankan miles away from Turin what’s the point of Slow Food?  What good does it do for my existence to know that people should look for Good, Clean and Fair food at every chance. That fruit should smell as good as they taste, that a bowl of rice should echo the stories of each farmer and his family’s time in the paddy field, and that a salad must bring with it the purity of the water and soil it came from. 
 
Naturally, Sri Lanka has its own Slow Food convivium www.slowfoodcolombo.com and it remains an advocate of local food with some impressive work done in the early years. Sri Lanka has registered 4 products in the Slow Food’s International Ark of Taste from our Kithul Treacle to 3 varieties of our traditional rice, Kuruluthuda, Ma-Wee and Suwandel. I remember local restaurants taking up the Slow Food slogan to promote authentic Sri Lankan food which is inherently true to the Slow Food philosophy but lately very little is heard of the movement.  And then there are those who promote Slow Food without so much name dropping – just serving simple traditional food, sharing age-old culinary practices and growing good clean food sustainably.  
 
I had to pause to wonder why the concept of Slow Food matters to me. Here’s why. 
  • Nothing excites me more than seeking out a good story about the food I eat and creative projects and clever ideas from people who are turning their backs on a materially-rich but time-poor existence in the quest for a more healthy and rewarding way to be. 
  • Keeping traditional foods from falling victim to the industrialised food system and our own fast-paced lifestyle is important to me and my son’s future. 
  • I want my son to grow up knowing we had farmers who loved their work, grew food with passion, enjoyed sharing the fruits of their labour and traditions that are found nowhere else in the world. 
  • I am intent to challenge the increasingly frantic pace of modern living - where having it all too often feels like having nothing at all. 
  •  
Back to my Christmas spirit and I am still a little wound up about how to ‘literally’ wrap my head around the gifts, the last minute deadlines at work, the travel plans and the family madness that generally ensues in December. 
 
STOP! I told my racing brain. Taking a cue from all things Slow I was inspired to rerun this month in Slow Motion. I ran through my checklist again…and again. I began by cutting out the material tasks that will not matter as a memory to anyone and my to-do’s dwindled dramatically. 
 
I prioritized my list to spend more time with family, do more therapeutic baking and gift-making instead of frantic & expensive gift-buying, to take more walks down new and unexplored roads, and yes to eat something new, local and to meet people who are growing good clean and fair food.  
 
I think that’s a good enough gift to give myself this Christmas. Some slow memories of chocolate covered faces,  puddle-jumping on rain swept dirt roads,  good laughs after a few too many home-made goodies and festive punch lines. 
 
And finally a toast to Slow Food and all things good clean and fair.  May you all enjoy a warm, restful and a oh so Slow Christmas! 
Footnote: 
 
Does your hotel or restaurant serve Slow Food? Do you feel like laying a Christmas table with sumptuous traditional food grown locally without chemicals or commercial agendas? Why does your food matter to you ? We want to know.  Email …….. info@slowfoodcolombo.com 
 

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