Friday, October 31, 2008

Terra Miele

Beekeepers were out in force at Terra Madre. Coming from Italy, Mexico, France, Brazil, New Zealand, India, the UK, Ethiopia, Kenya, the US, Morocco, Canada, Germany and just about anywhere else you could imagine, they were there to talk about concerns they had in common. One topical story was that of the German ban on GM honey: a Bavarian court ruled at the end of May this year that not only was honey made from nectar of GM crops not saleable, it was not fit for human consumption and had to be destroyed. Other concerns had to do with selective breeding of bees, which was reducing their resilience to disease and contributing to the loss of bee populations that had evolved to suit their native environments. There was discussion of the harm monocultures and commodity crops were doing to the bee populations; and of course there was a great deal of concern over pesticide use and urbanisation of native habitats.

There was lots of honey around. One thing I noticed in the Terra Madre market area was that every country had brought its jar or two of honey;

something that everyone had in common. The Honey Bar was hugely popular: volunteers manned it all day every day and patiently walked bystanders through free tastings of dozens of different honeys from around the world.

I confess I missed the opening ceremony of Terra Madre - just too hard to figure out where it was and how to get there and besides I had booked myself on a honey tasting,

led by honey producer Andrea Paternoster, whose generous selection of MieliThun honeys were hot items in the Salone de Gusto marketplace.

Terra Madre

So much to say about Terra Madre, I'll have to break it into bits.

A food meeting with a difference: Terra Madre included a large open space to allow delegates to throw a blanket on the floor and sell - or just show - their wares.

Biodiversity is a big thing in Slow Food's mission. So much of today's food has been bred into narrow, profit-oriented channels and lacks the flavour, seasonality and suitability to its terrain that traditional foods had evolved around. Here, a selection of local rice varieties from Thailand...

..and here, a selection of almond varieties from Afghanistan.

Green eggs from Temuco chickens, at the Chilean stand.

One of the many remarkable things about this event was the presence of simultaneous translation -- into the 8 official languages of Terra Madre. It wasn't always perfect or easy to hear, but it was an amazing achievement to do as much as they did. Some of the translators worked between two or three languages.

Some listeners demonstrate what could be described as the house style for positioning the translation receivers for maximum effect...

And someone offering henna services...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Naples and Rome Oct 20-21

After Pompeii and Herculaneum we went to Naples - using our Arte cards which had given us three days of sightseeing and travel - to get to the National Archaeological Museum of Naples, which held all the 'good stuff' from the excavations.

First, though, we were in Naples, so...

The museum. Big and pink!

Head of a poet.

Dear little pig of Herculaneum.


A recent treasure from Herculaneum, Testa di Amazzone, found in 2006. Showing that redheads ruled even then.

Absolutely stunning mosaics and wall paintings from Pompeii and Herculaneum:

The famous Sappho painting from Pompeii.

Then it was time to go to Rome. After a spell of wandering in the graffiti-heavy neighbourhood

we found - with some difficulty - the door to our guest house. Happily much nicer on the inside than the outside.

We asked for restaurant recommendations and ended up at a pleasant local restaurant where I had some buffalo mozzarella with zucchini alla scapece, an excellent combination.

Did not touch the hotel breakfast as it all looked too toxic to be released from plastic:

Went on a tour of the city and eventually found our way to the Trevi Fountain, which was being serviced. But it still drew a sizeable crowd, some watching a man who'd jumped the barricade and was busy picking up the coins that didn't make it into the fountain, chucking in the smallest ones and pocketing the rest, until he was escorted out by the security guards.

Near this street...

we found a good lunching spot with interesting lighting

and excellent fragoli con gelato.

Next to the Spanish Steps where our first stop was Keats' House, the lodgings where he died

And of course, being a Slow Foodie, I had to note the McDonalds, just around the corner on the Piazza di Spagna, which was the final outrage that caused the founding of the Slow Food movement in 1986.

Chestnut seller.

And that was more or less it for me for Rome this time. One final meal - excellent and local and recommended by the hotel - and I left for Turin the following morning. Giving another wide berth to the scary breakfast buffet.