Today was a fantastic day! We started it off with a class on how to taste. It turns out that we need to throw out all the old zonal tastebud maps – you know the one that shows the tongue and maps out where you sense bitter, sour, sweet, etc. It turns out that all tastebuds sense all the flavor groups – even umami (the sense of flavor, essentially). We then went through a series of stations that challenged you to taste things and learn to describe what you were tasting. It was eyeopening and helped to give us a sense of how to tackle the Salone today. The class session ended with a tasting of apples and chocolate – 3 types of each and we were challenged to determine the differences between them. I must say, it was really a neat experience that made me realize why here in Italy there is actually a masters program in Taste and the science of gastronomy – it is so wide and varied and definitely worthy of science. I will have to check out Harold McGee’s book again and brush up on the science of food – it is fascinating!
Then we were off and running to the Salone del Gusto to sample some amazing products – but we got waylaid by the impromptu marketplace that opened up. It was beautiful – all sorts of folks in all their costumes selling their wares from their home countries. We sampled honeys and dried fruits and nuts and even a vodka from Greenland made of 3000 year old glacier ice! Thomas has been the networking ambassador of our trio and usually starts all the halting conversations with fellow farmers from around the world. While cured meats and aged cheeses are certainly well represented here, veggies are definitely in the minority, but Thomas has been great at finding us some veggie farmers to talk with. Spencer’s Italian classes have helped us to communicate more effectively and I have been documenting with my pen and camera in hand (pictures to come ASAP!). We divided forces in the Salone and experienced many different wines, cheeses, liquors and breads – even some really good Italian beer!
The end of the day was spent with the entire US delegation, which is 800 members strong! There were several strong speakers talking about the future of Slow Food USA, which is very exciting. I’ll collect those notes to make a more coherent pitch tomorrow – but one quick thing that caught my attention was the news that the Slow Food Nation will be marching across the US soon, which I was deeply hoping for!
As we left the Lingotto, we met up with Emmett Dunbar of Anjali Farms here in Vermont, and reconnected with exclamations of how far advanced Vermont is in the agricultural arena. We feel so fortunate to be VT farmers, and we must have been glowing about this because we got snagged by the Terra Madre photo documentation crew that wanted to get a picture of our foursome for posterity. Can’t think of a much nicer way to end the day. Ah, off to dinner! Ciao!