slow food

May 25, 2010

It doesn’t take much to get me thinking about food and wine.

Much of the time I succumb to the smash, grab, bolt and run approach. I smash into the packaging, grab a few ingredients and bolt the food so as not to be late for the next appointment. As I’m doing this I know it is not good. It is not good for the food, and it’s certainly not good for me.

I read a few days ago that it takes twenty minutes for the ‘had-enough-to-eat’ message to get from the stomach to the brain. Most of my meals are well under twenty minutes, therefore…

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, last week I was with friends in Orvieto. This beautiful Umbrian town is a part of the international “slow food” movement …

…”that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world. To do that, Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable. Today, we have over 100,000 members in 132 countries.” (from the website

In Umbria we ate slowly. The food was good – perhaps because we took the time at table to taste it, and to really savour the flavours. We talked about what we were eating as we dined. The wine complemented the food well. We talked about that too. By the second night we were even asking the waiter to slow the courses. There there were many courses.

When we entered the restaurant on the first night we asked the waiter to simply bring us food and drink. It took him a minute to realise that we were serious. We didn’t need menus. We trusted him to brings us the right food and drink at the right time. Finally we convinced him that we would be happy with anything and everything he served us. Once he understood what we wanted, there was no stopping him.

It was clear to us that this Orvieto waiter delighted in the opportunity to serve his favourite flavours. He would describe each serving to us before he delivered it, just enough words to get us salivating. The chef too obviously loved preparing this food. For these people food was not just a job. Dining was their vocation.

Jesus seemed to spend a lot of time eating and drinking. There never seemed to be a hurry. Food and drink provided the reason, the environment and the lubrication for time in friendship. If you have seen Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ you might remember the scene where Mary comes out to call Jesus (aged early 20’s) in for lunch. He is making a dining table. She looks at its long legs (ie not a sit-on-the-floor model) and laughs. Even as a carpenter Jesus was thinking about meals!

I realised in Orvieto again the pleasure of slow food. Too often I’m eating on the run.

If money were no problem I would buy every couple I married a quality, made-to-be-an-heirloom dining table and chairs. A small way of encouraging them to begin their married (and future family) life, by eating together often and slowly.


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