YOU would be touched to tears seeing an international crowd trying and loving our pinakbet or our kadyos.
This was how Filipino “slow” food—including our endangered kadyos (black eye peas), heirloom rice from Kalinga, and atchara (pickles) made with our patis (fish sauce) and siling labuyo (hot peppers)—was received at the Salone del Gusto Terra Madre at Turin, Italy.
You have to give it to Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and chef Margarita “Gaita” Fores for collaborating on how best to show the world our endangered species but let them try Pinoy cuisine as well.
We also had some grilled pork loin simmered in Fannie Guanzon’s Herb’s best sinigang mix (no MSG, no chemicals), topping our Italian vegetable pinakbet and all served with red and black Balitanaw or Ulikan rice from the Cordilleras.
Nobody was selling anything in particular. We were all Team Philippines. No individual selling tactics. Just a general feeling of “Slow Food Pinoy Style.” There was coconut sugar, muscovado, cacao, even blueberries to sample. There was brewed coffee, too.
Chef Noel dela Rama from New York flew in to help chop, sauté and boil our beans and rice. Chefs Mariel Bustamante and Anthony Prudencio of Cibo group also went to market to see what could be made into pinakbet. And the others helped out—portioning food into sampler plates and bowls.
Providing the entertainment was slow food veteran Manny Onolan of Kalinga while the ladies from the North led the crowds into Igorot dancing routines. The Philippine stand was a crowd-drawer, constantly, over the five days of Salone del Gusto Terra Madre.
Private sector groups and slow food members like Nicolo and Paula Aberasturi of Bukidnon, Rob and Bea Crisostomo of Ritual, Chin-Chin and Francine Uy of Fresh Start in Bacolod, and our slow food mentors Marietta Paragas, Vickee Padilla and Vicky Carlos Garcia manned the stand and answered questions on our heirloom rice varieties, our coffee and cacao.
This show is one of a kind. No exporter trying to outdo each other in sales. Nobody engaging in business meetings. It was purely networking with the world and having a common goal—to save endangered species from each country and to promote slow food.
Literal as it may be, our slow food pots called “palayoks” (claypots) really kept our dishes steaming slowly and hot for a long time. Chef Gaita brought these palayoks to use at the show and to leave at Casa Artusi to be used each time there is a Pinoy Festival there. This is how Nature taught us. Use the earth with rainwater and make pots. Slow pots. Slow cookers. Palayoks.
If you were a visitor to the Philippines stand, you would be enjoined by the crowds to also try a little Pinoy cuisine. There was music, there was food and a general feeling of “welcome to the Philippines.”
And all these happened because of like-minded people who believe that slow food is alive in the Philippines. Thank you to the Department of Agriculture for believing in this cause. This movement helps the very small farmers the agency seeks to help. Preserving culture and our endangered breeds.
The Salone del Gusto happens only in Turin, Italy every other year, with Asio Gusto in Korea happening in between. But because the Philippines has become active, we will now continue the campaign with Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyards for which Undersecretary Puyat already signed up—making our children the first beneficiaries of this campaign.
Through the slow food movement, we hope that next generation will still know what endangered species like kamias, mabolo, chico, ratiles and mansanitas are.
By preserving our endangered species so we can contribute to preserving biodiversity—this is what slow food is all about anyway. Slow and easy.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra, Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org