Foodies from 150 countries to celebrate eating

For people with a passion for food, and a preference not to be rushed when they are eating, it could be a feast like no other.

Next month 5 000 foodies from 150 different countries will gather in the northern Italian city of Turin to swap experiences, cooking methods and recipes.

The international conference—the first of its kind—has been organised by Italy’s Slow Food movement, which was set up to support tasty, local food and traditional ways of cooking and eating.

The delegates are an eclectic mix: wild sheep farmers from Norway will mingle with yak herders from Kyrgyzstan, Senegalese fishermen will share a table with sea salt makers from Anglesey, Brazilian nut farmers will meet raisin producers from Afghanistan and olive oil makers from Israel.

Many of those attending live in remote corners of the world and have never left their village, let alone their country.

Some will travel for days to take part. Others will have to be accompanied because they have never seen an aeroplane.

Despite obvious language difficulties, the delegates will be involved in scores of round-table meetings that will tackle topics such as whether small bananas, farro wheat, or pilchards will ever be in fashion, or how to grow grapes in searing heat and wind, or grow coffee beans in a minefield.

Translators will be on hand with seven of the world’s most spoken languages. Those who only speak their local dialect are expected to resort to universal hand gestures, drawing and pulling faces.

“We don’t expect it to be easy, but we have found in the past that language is not always the biggest barrier,” said spokesperson Alessandra Abbona.

“People who live, as we say, on the sweat of their own foreheads, don’t have too many hang-ups and don’t tend to be shy.
They don’t have any trouble talking about their problems. Some even sing about them.”

Many of those travelling to Turin will be exhibiting their food products and farming and cooking methods.

Italian authorities have helped foot the bill for their travel.

About 1 000 of the visitors will be hosted by Turin families, and the rest will sleep free in bed and breakfasts and convents and with local food producers.

No politicians, environmentalists or human rights campaigners have been invited.

Slow Food was set up in 1986 by Carlo Petrini to support local food and traditional ways of cooking and eating when a McDonald’s opened in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna.

Next month the organisation’s university of gastronomy, another first of its kind, opens in Pollenzo, near Turin. - Guardian Unlimited Â

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