Item description for A World Of Presidia: Food, Culture & Community by Anya Fernald, Serena Milano & Piero Sardo...
A World of Presidia: Food, Culture & Community, Chelsea Green's newest book from Slow Food Editore, vibrantly tells the stories of 65 Presidia-groups of traditional food artisans-from 30 different countries and the unique and delicious foods they are working to preserve. The book's color photographs and detailed descriptions bring Tibet's yak cheese, Cape May, Delaware's salt oysters and Chile's Purn white strawberries to life. As the world's biodiversity diminishes, we are in danger of also losing many delicious traditional foods, but these Presidia are fighting hard to keep these delicacies on the table. Slow Food Presidia is a project of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. Each Presidia focuses on a group of producers of a single artisan food and develops production and marketing techniques to help them to be economically viable. Sometimes, it takes just a little to save an artisan food; it's enough to bring together producers, help them coordinate marketing and promotion, and establish quality and authenticity standards for their product. Other times, when the production of a food is closer to the brink, it takes more: building a slaughterhouse, an oven, or reconstructing crumbling farmhouse walls. A World of Presidia is not just about the foods, but also recounts the stories of the men and women who safeguard them-the curators of our world's rich agricultural history. The slow food Presidia are doing more than giving you the opportunity to savor Brazil's umbu fruit or American raw milk cheeses, they are preserving a way of life.
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Reviews - What do customers think about A World Of Presidia: Food, Culture & Community?
Fascinating and mouth-watering Feb 15, 2008
Slow Food Editore of Italy produced this book. They chose the word "presidia" to describe their various projects because "Presidia in Latin means 'garrison' or 'fort,' and the Presidia are just that: a safe haven for great foods that protects them against the tide of globalized food production." (p. 8)
I had never heard of the Slow Food project until I picked up this book. Their motto is "good, clean, and fair food." They want to "sustain, promote, and raise the profile" of artisan foods, some of which might be said to be on something like the endangered food list. What they have done so beautifully in this book is to demonstrate 65 of their projects in 30 countries.
Two to four pages are devoted to each food. The foods range from Andasibe red rice in Madagascar, to Andean potatoes in Peru, to Gascony Black pigs in France, to Irish raw cow milk cheese in Ireland, to Cape May salt oysters in the United States, to Mangalica sausage in Hungary, to Chinantla vanilla in Mexico, to even some Mavrotragano wine from Greece. Food categories include cheeses, fruits and nuts, legumes, tubers and vegetables, cereals, animal breeds, oils, crustaceans, fish and mollusks, cured meats, cacao, coffee and spices, wines and fermented beverages.
Each focus contains some text describing the food and its history and tradition, how it's made and how the people who produce the food live and what their challenges are. Accompanying the text are beautiful color photos of the products and the people who produce them. There are photos of the landscape, the plants, the animals grazing, and the people in traditional dress as well as shots from the various market places. Sometimes the village homes are shown and sometimes there are photos of the various stages of the artisan food production including storage places.
In an age in which so many of our foods have lost their taste due to the mass production of varieties with the longest shelf life, it is a pleasure to see this sort of project at work. During my lifetime I have seen the shrinkage of available food types because the small, artisan farmer has been forced out of business by Big Agriculture through its control of the marketplace. Today most tomatoes for sale in supermarkets have been selected and cultivated for long shelf life so they are almost tasteless. And what ever happened to tender, first of the year, sweet yellow corn? Now most supermarket corn is white, too sweet and bland tasting.
Some foods featured that you may not have heard of and almost certainly haven't tasted are Puren white strawberries from Chile, the thirst quenching umbu fruit from Brazil, the melon flavored Yacon root from Argentina, Tibetan Plateau Yak cheese from China, and roasted guarana seeds from Brazil. I was fascinated to learn how vanilla is grown and processed differently in such places as Madagascar and Mexico, and of the differing traditions of cacao growth and processing in Ecuador compared to how its done across the Atlantic in the Sao Tome and Principe.
This book has inspired me to try a larger variety of foods and to think about going on a gastronomic travel adventure to some of the places described. One word of warning: do not read this book on an empty stomach. Your mouth may start watering.