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 Market will host 15 stands dedicated to showcasing Terra Madre food communities and Presidia products from the Balkans and Turkey. Much of this area was made possible thanks to the ESSEDRA project, co-funded by the European Union with the aim of supporting the process of European integration for Balkan countries and Europe through a strengthening of civil society and its capacity to influence policies and promote sustainable models of rural development. This project also contributed to establishing the five new Slow Food Presidia that will be presented this year:
- Kurtovo Konare pink tomato, from Bulgaria – a variety renowned throughout Bulgaria for its sweetness and used to produce a high-quality Lyutenitsa – a spicy tomato-and-pepper preserve.
- Peljesac Varenik, from Croatia, which is a must typical of Southern Dalmatia. In the Pelješac peninsula, it is made exclusively from the autochthonous Plavac Mali grape and its color varies from blood-red to shades of dark caramel, with a strong, fruity flavor with notes of honey and marsala.
- Stanushina grape, from the Republic of Macedonia, belongs to the Black Sea family of grape varieties, and has been grown on its steep hills since ancient times. This grape is transformed either into kominyak, a ruby-red wine with aromas of strawberry, raspberry and dried fruit, as well as into madzun, a beverage used to cure liver problems and respiratory infections, and as a sugar substitute in home cooking; and the new Macedonian Honeybee Presidium, established to safeguard a native bee species, Apis mellifera macedonica, found throughout the historic Macedonia region, from Eastern Albania to Western Bulgaria.
- Bazna pig, from Romania, which is named after the municipality of the same name in the Sibiu district, where it was favored for its hardiness and the quality of its meat. Its fat is of excellent quality and is well-suited to the production of cured meats, which are aged in the winter and smoked in the attics of traditional houses.
Following the great success of the 4th edition of Terra Madre Balkans, held in Tirana last June, Albania will be showcasing a wide range of products, including the Permet gliko Presidium, Elbasan olive oil, and products from the Kelmend region. Many Albanian chefs, including Altin Prenga and Sokol Prenga, will attend the event, to present the Slow Food Chefs’ Alliance recently launched in the country, and to participate in the Chefs’ Alliance kitchen.
The Slow Food network in Bulgaria will host the largest exhibition area, with three stands where visitors will have a unique opportunity to learn about the richness of Bulgarian food production, including the renowned Tcherni Vit green cheese, the Karkachan sheep, and Meurche Presidia, along with many Ark of Taste products such as Lake Atanasovsko salt, the East Balkan pig, and several meat products from Strandja mountains.
Turkey’s exhibition area will instead focus on the products of Slow Food Earth Markets, the ancient Siyez wheat bulgur Presidium, as well as a selection of the seven tarhanas listed on the Ark of Taste – an ancient dried food product based on a fermented mixture of grain and yoghurt or fermented milk, usually made into a thick soup over wintertime. Tarhana is a food processing tradition found from Iran to Bosnia. It is a typical home-made product, with tens if not hundreds of varieties in Anatolia alone, where each household and community adapts it according to the local food available, as well as taste preferences: a unique symbol of food diversity and non-commodified food production.
The lack of flexibility in the application of the hygiene requirements of the European Union in the Balkans and Turkey has long been recognized as the main policy challenge in the region, and this is also the reason why some diary and meat byproduct Presidia from outside EU countries will not be showcased or sold at the international markets, including the Mishavinë cheese from Albania, the Boğatepe Gravyer from Turkey, and cheese in a sack from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A dedicated conference to Saving Biodiversity in the Balkans will evaluate four years of the ESSEDRA project, which has led to the identification of over 300 Ark of Taste products throughout the region, and a thorough advocacy program aiming at ensuring small-scale farmers’ access to markets with their traditional products; as well as identifying the challenges ahead.