Slow Food for Thought:
Our Feature in the November/December 2016 Biz Events Asia Magazine
The fame of destinations in Asia is tightly intertwined with food. The rapid economic development Asia is experiencing in this century has led to the increase in food consumption. Demand has exceeded supply, resulting in numerous food scams and over consumption at an ever increasing pace. Harvesting cycles and seasonality may be a thing of the past for impatient consumers and food source will be the next security concern if this disrespect continues in the name of busyness.
According to Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow, culinary writer, Carlo Petrini, started the Slow Food movement in Italy in 1986 when a McDonald’s restaurant was opened beside the Spanish Steps in Rome. Slowfood.com explained that their initial aim was to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasures and a slow pace of life. To eat in a slow pace could be on the secret wish list of many – it was certainly on mine.
In September 2016, Biz Events Asia ventured to Lucca, a slow town in Northern Tuscany, Italy, to be with Tony and Julie Carter of Culinary Interludes. The Australian chef and his wife delivered a residential Italian cooking experience at Villa Novedieci, a 10-bedroom, 15th century restored farmhouse located in the Tuscan foothills.
The daily cooking class focused on using fresh seasonal local produce where as many items were made fresh where feasible. Participants cooked what they ate and were taught original recipes that can be practically managed at home. Besides onsite cooking, the hosts included a flexible itinerary of visiting different local restaurants, markets, shops and tourist sites at a slow pace, be it having an ice cream whilst wondering about the medieval Ponte Della Maddalena (famously known as the Devil’s Bridge) on the Serchio River or sipping a glass of prosecco whilst waiting to attend the nightly tribute concert to Puccini at the Church of San Giovanni in Lucca town, where the music legend was baptised in 1858.
Other experiences the hosts introduced include seasonal food shopping at local markets and an inspiring visit to 78-year-old Carlo Galgani, the last blacksmith of a five-century family business located near Gombitelli. Most importantly, participants of different nationalities and different walks of life got to gather and share this experience.
Perfect for a 20-delegate corporate incentive programme, the Culinary Interludes experience promotes the slow life many executives crave for. The location motivates team bonding and creative thinking. We personally experienced a long breathing moment that allowed one to rest well, live in the present and be ready to take on the future with a positive attitude. At the end of the day, we work to live and not live to work.
La dolce vita.
WORDS and PHOTOS: EL KWANG