Slow food fest coming to United States next May

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Greens restaurant chef Victoria Metzgar works on the main course at the eatery in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2007. Carlo Petrini, who wrote the book, "Slow Food Nation," is on a U.S. book tour to promote a movement that emphasizes a return to regional traditions and home cooking from local ingredients. Well-known chef, writer and restaurant owner, Alice Waters, who wrote the introduction to the book, is also promoting the campaign for "good, clean and fair food." The main course is a tartlet with goat cheese, leeks, green garlic, grilled asparagus, beets and field greens. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

SAN FRANCISCO -- In a country of drive-through dinners and 30-minute meals, cuisine can be more fraught than haute. So advocates of the slow food movement are planning what they bill as a "World's Fair of Food" next year.

"The challenge, the game, truly begins here in America," said Carlo Petrini, the Italian founder of the "slow food" movement that emphasizes a return to regional traditions and home cooking from local, sustainably grown ingredients. "The country which invented fast food can propose slow food."

Petrini, who spoke through an interpreter, and Alice Waters, doyenne of California cuisine, were in San Francisco at the waterfront vegetarian restaurant, Greens, to announce Slow Food Nation, a four-day event planned next May in San Francisco. The event, which Waters compared to a World's Fair, will include taste workshops, a food film festival, a sustainable fish barge, a demonstration school garden and world food stands.

The goal, said Waters, founder of the renowned Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., is capitalizing on the interest people are showing in what's on their plate and how it got there.

"In a way this shouldn't be an exciting moment because excitement is not really what slow food is all about," Waters said with a smile. "But there is a marvelous urgency about what we're doing today."

ABOVE: Greens restaurant chef Dylan Lovett cooked goat cheese and leek tartlets as the main course May 10 at Greens in San Francisco. RIGHT: Greens restaurant dessert chef Nekoda Rowley worked on a strawberry rhubarb shortcake with whipped cream May 10. At Greens, Carol Petrini, the found of the "slow food" movement, announced plans for Slow Food Nation, a four-day event to be held next May in San Francisco. (Paul Sakuma ~ Associated Press)

Petrini, on tour for his book "Slow Food Nation," founded the movement in 1986 in response to a McDonald's opening in Rome. It now claims a worldwide membership of more than 80,000.

The idea is that food should be good, clean and fair, meaning it's tasty, grown in an environmentally sustainable fashion by workers who are paid and treated fairly.

Waters said interest in food has never been higher with many seeing food as a common language.

Food, she said, is in peoples' minds as "a source of joy and health and also as an expression of our politics and of our hopes for a better world."

Well-known chef, writer, and restaurant owner, Alice Waters, left, takes a bite of an appetizer as Charlotte Maillard, center, from San Francisco, looks on at Greens restaurant in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2007. Carlo Petrini, who wrote the book, "Slow Food Nation" is on a U.S. book tour to promote a movement that emphasizes a return to regional traditions and home cooking from local ingredients. Waters, who wrote the introduction to the book, is also promoting the campaign for "good, clean and fair food." The appetizer is a sampler of flageolet beans, spring onions, tarragon, wild arugula, grilled artichokes, crostini, fava bean puree, mint, sheep cheese, radishes and almonds. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Greens Restaurant executive chef Annie Somerville works on the appetizer dish at Greens in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2007. Carlo Petrini, who wrote the book, "Slow Food Nation," is on a U.S. book tour to promote a movement that emphasizes a return to regional traditions and home cooking from local ingredients. Well-known chef, writer and restaurant owner, Alice Waters, who wrote the introduction to the book, is also promoting the campaign for "good, clean and fair food." The appetizer is a sampler of flageolet beans, spring onions, tarragon, wild arugula, grilled artichokes, crostini, fava bean puree, mint, sheep cheese, radishes and almonds. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Alice Waters, right, and Carlo Petrini, left, toast with Navarro pinot noir grape juice at Greens restaurant in San Francisco, Thursday, May 10, 2007. Petrini, who wrote the book, "Slow Food Nation," is on a U.S. book tour to promote a movement that emphasizes a return to regional traditions and home cooking from local ingredients. Well-known chef, writer, and restaurant owner, Waters, who wrote the introduction to the book, is also promoting the campaign for "good, clean and fair food." (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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