Every two years, the former Fiat factory in Torino becomes a giant salon of food at the Salone del Gusto. This is a Slow Food Foundation event geared toward protecting food biodiversity more than it is a hoity toity meeting of foodies (of which I am decidedly not. I think I burned the majority of my taste buds off through year of eating fiery hot sauce and ultra spicy dishes.)
Anyway, we went because it was something to do on a Sunday, as GP lives 35 minutes away.
The first interesting thing encountered was spiraling ceiling in the Lingotto building. This was used as car storage when it was a factory. (You might also know about the test track – on the roof of the building!)
After resolving to return when we can view the track on the roof, we entered this food fair.
Since this event is in Italy, the majority of the focus is on regional Italian foods (there were International salons as well, mostly European and South American). We sampled plenty of Italian cheeses, like giant wheels of hard cheese covered with the post wine grape corpses(called “vinaccia”) :
And stinky French cheese, made by mountain people in Northern France, aged by burying in the dirt or grass for various lengths of time.
Incidentally, the regional inhabitants looked like mountain people as well.
Other interesting things cheese is buried in includes grass and animal poop. Animal poop cheese is called “fossa” in Italy. In case you were wondering.
I tried the grass cheese, and given that it tasted reminiscent of tangy grass, I skipped the poo-cheese.
In truth, there was so many cheeses from all over Italy and Europe, that after sampling a Polish cooked cheese, I was cheesed out.And ready for some wine.
We found many samples in the regional salons, though the samples were small.
You could purchase another entrance to a wine tasting salon for another 6 Euros, but we passed. A glass for purchase or wine tasting/wine pairing discussions were all over the place.
And wine stewards, tired of standing in their funny uniforms all day, that could be coaxed out of a glass or two for some diverting conversation.
I also came across a cigar/booze pairing discussion. I guess Italian farmed tobacco is protected just like regional cuisine.
And beer, including Abba beer (no relation to the band, unfortunately).After booze and cheese, it was time for something a little more substantial, of which there was a lot of at this fair: Meat!
I’m generally not a meat eater and never have been (I remember spitting steak into napkins as a child every time I was served it and flushing sausages down the toilet), but animals for consumption in Europe, especially regional specialties (with the exception of France) have natural diets, are humanely raised and slaughtered, are not treated with any antibiotics, hormones, etc that they taste entirely different and I will occasionally eat meat here. And nothing is better than a sandwich of a couple slabs of simple organic meat and bread!
After our little snack, we sampled probably 50 different olive oils and breads. GPs favorite oil was from Puglia, which is a region full of ancient olive orchards and oil production. Some breads had branding marks on them, or no salt, or were rubbery or chewy. But all were seriously delicious.Of course, we sampled tomatoes and tomato sauces, the best in my opinion coming from Sicily.
The Sicilians have a very distinctive interpersonal manner. They are engaging and can remain stony faced while being humorous trades people, and therefore very charming to my American sensibilities. These guys were wrangling customers and no doubt were killing it with the Americans who were visiting the Salone del Gusto (I heard a few here and there).And then there was my favorite part.
Endless jams, cookies, biscuits, crackers…And don’t forget …chocolate!
“Woo” chocolate with vanilla from South America was pretty good.
I’m not sure why the racist images of blacks are ever present in Europe and associated with chocolate, but there they still are.
I have more photos to share, so this post is to be continued.