Our Idea of the Balkans

The Balkans is one of Europe’s least-known regions, still suspended in a seemingly endless European Union integration process. For centuries a crossroads for people, cultures and religions; it is still home to unique gastronomic traditions. These traditions could serve as an economic, social and cultural driving force for many rural communities impoverished by decades of abandonment, migration and scarce development prospects.

And yet these traditions, still remarkably authentic, are at risk of disappearing; suffocated by the lethal embrace of a globalization that considers traditional knowledge to be an old-fashioned legacy from the past. In reality, safeguarding them would contribute significantly to the process of integrating the Balkans, including culturally, into the EU.

Recognizing that no national borders can separate food in the Balkans, the Terra Madre forum was launched in 2010; creating a common platform to investigate, understand but above all preserve and sustain the food heritage of the region. The Terra Madre network promotes the region’s often little-known foods, protects those at risk of disappearing and educates consumers on how to understand and search for local traditions, understand and value local artisan products and the communities that produce them.

ESSEDRA (Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas) project is a natural result of the growing and strenghtening of Terra Madre Balkans network. It was launched in 2012 and is co-funded by the European Union through DG enlargement. The project aims to support the integration process of the Balkan countries and Turkey into Europe, but in the same time create conditions for these countries to preserve their identity, demonstrated by their amazing food diversity and artisanal food.

News & Events

EU Quality Schemes in the Balkans: Are they only good on paper?

Macedonia… The quality schemes promoted by the EU: a help or a hindrance? A conference organized by Slow Food Bitola highlighted the possible negative impacts on small-scale producers from Balkan countries… On March 27 in Kavadarci, Slow Food Bitola organised a conference entitled “Quality Protection of Traditional Products” to shed light over the recently adopted regulation to implement EU quality schemes and Geographical Indications in the Republic of Macedonia. Over … Continued

Best Tarhana

Turkey… Every Sunday, the Foça Earth Market restores the relationship of trust between those who produce and those who consume “locally and seasonally”. White. Blocks of homemade soap, bulging bags overflowing with glossy beans, plump cauliflowers, pine nuts that smell of resin and the sea. Red. Tall jars filled with pepper paste, succulent turnips, pomegranates with tightly packed seeds. Orange. Dense-fleshed pumpkins, orange preserves as bright as kaleidoscopes. Yellow. Lavender … Continued

Slow Cheese Bodrum A Huge Success!

Turkey… Slow Cheese Bodrum – the first such event dedicated to artisanal cheese and dairy production in Turkey – ended last Sunday, marking a great success in terms of both public participation and the involvement of local authorities. Organized by the Slow Food Yaves Gari Bodrum Convivium, together with the Municipality of Bodrum and the Chamber of Agriculture, the four day event took place from 5 – 8 March, in … Continued