He says slow food traces its beginnings to one man's reaction to a McDonald's opening in Rome in 1986. Carlo Petrini kicked off the movement for "the protection of the right to taste." That is, the right to taste and enjoy foods that are not processed or produced by machine. Think artisan cheeses, micro-brewed beers and most organic food products.
"Thousands of people all over the world finding delicious handmade cheese - that's where the slow part comes in. It takes time to make something really delicious and really good that tastes better than what you usually get at the supermarket," says Kummer.
By fighting back the traders from the west (McDonald's), the then-fledgling "slow food" movement put more money back in the pockets of the poor farmers who barely eked out a living doing what they did best - growing and preparing fresh food. In addition to promoting the local farmer, the movement also educates consumers about ecologically sound food production, and ways for people to live a slower, more harmonious life, says Kummer.
Today, the "slow food" movement has more than 65,000 members with over 560 local chapters in 45 countries. The U.S. national office is in Manhattan.
Through "The Pleasures of Slow Food," Corby Kummer brings us the history of the movement in a very methodical manner. He also includes 40 recipes; some of which were created in the kitchens of culinary luminaries like Alice Waters (Chez Panisse) and Daniel Boulud (Daniel).
Here is a recipe for Baked Cheese with Winter Herbs. It is made with a semi-soft cheese that comes from the farm of Tom and Giana Ferguson who live in the Irish seaside village of Schull.
In addition to the natural flavor of the cheese, Kummer says, the fresh herbs and garlic in the recipe further accent the grassy flavor.
Baked Cheese With Herbs
1-pound wheel semi-soft cheese such as Gubbeen, Reblochon, or Port Salut
1 tablespoon minced mixed fresh herbs such as thyme and rosemary
2 cloves garlic
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Crusty loaf of bread for serving (could also serve with apples)
- Preheat the oven to 325 F. Cut the cheese in half horizontally to make 2 rounds.
- Sprinkle the herbs, garlic, and black pepper on the bottom half of the cheese.
- Replace the top disk of cheese and place the wheel on a large piece of aluminum foil.
- Wrap the foil around the cheese, forming a chimney hole on top with the excess foil.
- The chimney will let out the moisture while the cheese bakes. Place the cheese on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is soft and runny.
- Spread on slices or chunks of bread while the cheese is still warm.