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

The richness of Balkan food biodiversity on stage at Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2016

Organized by Slow Food, the region of Piedmont and the city of Turin, the 11th edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, the most important international event dedicated to food culture, will be held from September 22 to 26, 2016, in Turin, Italy. Five thousand delegates from 160 countries, over 800 exhibitors, 300 Slow Food Presidia and 500 Terra Madre food communities will take part in the event. The International … Continued

Terra Madre Balkans, the voice of farmers in Tirana

“Mother Teresa” Square stands at the end of the long boulevard which, during the years of Italian occupation, was to shape Tirana’s new identity, molded by fascist architecture. After 50 years of Communist parades and being largely abandoned during the period of transition that followed, this square has been re-established as a central public meeting place following the visit by Pope Francis (in September 2014, when the huge space was … Continued


On Friday, May 20th 2016 Slow Food presented  the project of the Pelješac Varenik Presidium at the Centre for Food Culture in Zagreb. The presentation was within the scope of ESSEDRA project promoted by Slow Food and financed by EU through the DG Enlargement. The participants to the press conference were Michele Rumiz,  Slow Food coordinator for the Balkans, Ivo Kara-Pesic, President of the NGO Kinookus and Marijeta Čalić, Mario Bartulović, … Continued