Monday, November 10, 2014

Salone del Gusto 2014

If it's not for a friend who reminded me, I wasn't even aware that this year's Salone del Gusto, the "Olympics of food festivals" held only every 2 years in Turin, was at the same time we were in Piedmont.

To say Salone del Gusto - organized by Slow Food International - was just one gigantic food fair was somewhat an understatement. True, the centerpiece of the event was the main hall where thousands of exhibitors showcasing their artisan food products - whether that be oil, vinegar, cheese, cured meat, beer and wines etc, but during the 5-day event, there were also cooking lessons, demonstrations, conferences and workshops, some celebrating the heritage and the wide variety of food and cooking techniques from around the world, and some dealing with the more serious socio-economic issues challenging our food chain nowadays - like the effect of climate change, hunger, industrialization of farming, etc.

It's unfortunate I could only spend one short afternoon exploring the events on Sunday. I was literally dashing through rows after rows of stalls, running from one region to another, trying to maximize my time spent learning and tasting. Ham and vinegar from Emilia-Romagna, all the wonderful fruits from Sicily, cheese and olive oil from Tuscany were all hard to resist, and I was somewhat surprised that the wine-centric region of Piedmont was also the epicenter for artisan beers, with quite a number of different stalls showcasing their products.

Going through the wine hall and the outdoor canopy of street food stalls, the other side of the convention center was dedicated to international exhibitors, with representatives from over 130 countries. In the middle, an area called "Ark of taste" was set up, which collected and showcased heritage produce or food products from around the world that were endangered by industrialized food production and climate change. Naturally, I headed over to the Asia section curious to see what's being represented from our part of the world, but was disappointed to see that there were only 2 booths for Chinese food, one from China selling tea, and another from Taiwan promoting an artisan brand of soy sauce. Nonetheless I did drop by and had a tasting of the 2 different types of soy sauce, made using Taiwanese dark soy and Italian sea salt in the traditional way, and I was very impressed. Too bad they sold out their stock completely midway through the event, but here's the website if anyone's interested in their products:

It's been an inspiring experience walking through booths after booths, spending time at each individual stalls, talking to the producers, sharing their passions, and tasting all their wonderful products - ah I just wish I could stay longer.

Salone del Gusto:
Slow Food Hong Kong:

(This is the part of the Journey to Piedmont series, a writing project capturing our recent travel experiences to the region)

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