Saying no to Slow

Posted by Anita on 08.29.08 11:48 AM

(c)2008 AEC **all rights reserved**

Our weekly shopping haul; One Local Summer, Week 13


Unless you’ve been in a self-imposed media blackout, you may have heard about the party that Alice, Carlo, and friends are throwing here in Our Fair City. And you’d probably guess that a pair of diehard food dorks like us would be camped out in line, waiting for the chance to storm the gates first thing in the morning, wandering through the Victory Garden as we sample a continent’s worth of canapes in the dappled summer sun.

But the fact is, we live a Slow Food Nation life all the time. We spend practically every weekend grazing around the City and around the Bay Area. We live in a community where our oddball food choices have become fairly mainstream. We hang out with a crowd of thoughtful food-worshippers who can carry on a spirited debate about how to balance being a locavore with being a (small-c) chowhound.

We’re truly blessed to make our home here in the epicenter of the local, organic, sustainable food movement. San Francisco’s a city where it’s hardly a challenge at all to eat well and eat ethically… so much so that I get fairly bent out of shape when circumstances or travel force me to do otherwise.

So, no — No “Foodstock” for us. Happily, we have a lot to do this weekend:

- Buying our weekly groceries from the people who grow/make them
We do this every week at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, but just to make it interesting — and to bypass the frenzy of out-of-town foodies descending there this weekend — we’re heading across the bay to the Berkeley Farmers Market. We’ll see some of our usual vendors there, but I’m looking forward to exploring new stalls and new ingredients.

- Putting up food to preserve the harvest
Later in the day, we’ll pick up 100 pounds of San Marzano tomatoes at Mariquita Farm’s “guerilla veggie” drop-off. Later in the weekend, we’ll be hauling out the pressure canners and turning them into puree, marinara sauce, and whole canned tomatoes to feed us through the winter

- Supporting restaurants that support local farms
Mariquita’s making their drop at Piccino, so we’ll have a chance to experience their brunch for the first time. The fact that Sher and Wayne — like so many other San Francisco restaurateurs — procure so much of their raw ingredients from the same farmers and artisans that we buy from makes me inexplicably giddy.

- Exploring the food traditions of our neighbors
Saturday night, we’re heading out to a family-run ethnic restaurant with a group of food-obsessed friends. Later in the weekend — if we get our canning done — we’ll visit a Thai food festival put on by the local Buddhist temple at Golden Gate Park. Neither of these experiences are Slow, in the sense of using exclusively sustainable/local/organic ingredients, but supporting ethnic foodways is an essential part of being a citizen of our city and the world.

- Celebrating the bounty of our region
On Monday, we’re having some friends over for a little nosh. We’ll eat some pâté and peaches, sharp cheese and homemade plum chutney. We’ll drink local bubbly, sip homemade pear brandy, maybe even shake up a cocktail using artisanal spirits. Later there’ll be farmers-market pasta tossed with some of the marinara sauce we made earlier, maybe baguette slices spread with pesto. A pie, perhaps… made with a local-flour-and-butter crust (learned from a friend who also happens to be a local treasure) and filled with yet more amazing farmers market finds.


One Local Summer 2008Am I conflicted about opting out of the Slow festivities? Absolutely. I’m already drooling over the Slow on the Go and Taste Pavilion tidbits showing up in friends’ Flickr streams. By all accounts, the Friday events have been beautiful, interesting, and delicious. I hope that they keep it up, because the people who’ve traveled here from all over the world deserve it. And so do the farmers, food-makers, and volunteers who are going all-out to make a fabulous impression.

But on the other hand, I know we’ll make the perfect slow celebration, in all the ways that matter most to us, just as the folks visiting our city and our local producers will have theirs. Either way, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Labor Day than by honoring the backbreaking effort — both physical and political — that our farmers and artisans spend to put quality food on our tables.

Bay Area, farmers markets, locavore, One Local Summer



Comment by matt

What a beautiful beautiful entry that illustrates the bounty of your area. And this is exactly really the only issue (if you even wanna call it that!) I’ve had with the event. On one hand it’s celebrating the abundance and mindset Northern California has, on the other hand would it open more eyes if it was held somewhere else? Oh questions questions questions.

But what I love most about you is that you take none of your access to good food for granted; you acknowledge it on a daily basis and then share it with all of us. That’s pretty damn powerful.

Posted on 08.30.08 at 6:07AM

Comment by sam

do we share a mind or something?

Posted on 08.30.08 at 7:14AM

Comment by Stephanie

I agree, Anita. As Sam once said, “Slow food every day!” I may not toe that line exactly, but I certainly try every day.

For my part in the SLN malaise, I’m struggling with the feeling of how very smug and self-congratulatory having SLN in San Francisco feels to me.

I’m also struggling with feeling that Mayor Noisome is putting up a false front with the Victory Garden since it will be ripped up after SFN is done.

I have very strong feelings on both those points but am forcing myself to contain them here.

Anita’s Edit: For more on this subject, check out Stephanie’s Bay Area Bites post.

Posted on 08.30.08 at 10:12AM

Comment by cookiecrumb

And… crowds. Nope. And $65 tickets! Nope.

(Sam! Glad to get a wisp of your thinking on this; I suspected as much. Me too.)

Posted on 08.30.08 at 2:08PM

Comment by Sean

I’m with you! We canned our 100 lbs of tomatoes last week (thanks for the pressure canner again): 80 lbs into marinara and 20 into paste and tomato water/braising liquid. I don’t see the need to spend cash money to publicly congratulate myself on what I already do.

Posted on 08.30.08 at 3:18PM

Comment by Chris Bailey

I’m involved with Slow Food here in Eugene, OR, and while I think the event would have been fun, you guys are pretty much a shining example/epitomize what Slow Food is all about. If anything the other festival folks are missing out on interacting with you as great sources of info on how to truly be dedicated to slow and local food. Your blog is great, and I know it has helped motivate me to continue pursuing the local and slow food life even that much more.

We have it pretty good here in Eugene as well. Good farmer’s market (but not every day), tons of CSA’s (and year round), etc. Love it.

Anyway, keep up the great blog, and know that nobody should think any less of you not going to the Slow Food Nation festival…

Posted on 08.30.08 at 9:08PM

Comment by Robin

Living in a couple-hood where the sole focus is food is simply wonderful, ain’t it?!


Looks like you have a great weekend planned.

Posted on 08.30.08 at 9:20PM

Comment by Eugenia

I’d imagine holding the Slow Food extravaganza in SF is more about the wowing tourists and less about educating locals. That’s a problem, in my book, when the organization has an educational mission. But I’m a cantankerous, poor educator, so that’s my bias.

I’m also in Eugene like Chris above, and marginally involved in our Slow Food chapter, but it’s too rich for my blood even here. Good for them in bringing the best food to people who can afford it, and I think they’ve been successful in top-down marketing, since the American consumer is more aware of locavore/sustainable/organic alternatives now (even if they can’t afford them), but I do wish they’d do more grass-roots level programming to educate people how to grow and prepare the slow food they’re celebrating, instead of fundraising for a select few members to go to Italy to eat salumi. Eugene’s missing a chance for the Slow Food deep pocket to partner with the OSU Extension, for example, on preserving and baking classes. I’d imagine even more opportunities are being lost in the Bay Area.

Is this too cynical? I think they’re going to take away my foodie license.

Posted on 08.31.08 at 7:25AM

Comment by alison

i agree with you – however am taking a wee walk down to civic center this morning (as i usually do on a sunday) and will have a wee gander at what is on offer but can certainly do without the crowds at fort mason….

Posted on 08.31.08 at 8:00AM

Comment by Chris Bailey

Any chance you guys can do a blog post about preserving the tomatoes for winter? e.g. for those of us who’ve never done canning or preserving (we made pickles last weekend, and that’s the closest I’ve come), I’d love to know what equipment to get, what techniques, recipes, and so on you recommend.

Posted on 08.31.08 at 10:14AM

Comment by Carol

Your weekend sounds darn near perfect to me. I’m in PA with family this weekend, eating food fresh from the farms that surround my parents’ house. Yum!

Posted on 08.31.08 at 12:37PM

Comment by Tana

I share your thinking (and blogged about it), and enjoyed staying away from the costly festivities. I live slow food here fairly well, and don’t think I want to give Carlo Petrini any more of my money. Especially after what he wrote about Ferry Plaza and my “surfing farmer” friend.

We had dinner last night with the good folks who run TLC (Tastes Like Chicken) Ranch, and also a woman who’s starting her own sheep dairy. She brought lamb shanks and two wheels of cheese she’d made. It was just fantastic. Delicious and peaceful.

Posted on 09.01.08 at 2:05PM

Comment by Tea

Well said. I had a nice slow food weekend in Seattle (I think two farmers’ markets in a 24 hr period qualifies). Though I admit to oogling the photos online.

Are they really going to rip out the garden? That’s a shame.

Posted on 09.01.08 at 8:55PM

Comment by Stephanie

Actually, it was supposed to removed in September, but just yesterday the Gav announced that it will stay put until November.


Posted on 09.02.08 at 12:05PM

Comment by Morgan

awe man…i want to live in SF and have all of this at my fingertips…sigh…

Posted on 09.03.08 at 6:14AM

Comment by michelle

You’re so lucky! I miss living in California, where I first was introduced to things like CSAs and slow food. But I keep trying to tell myself that everywhere has its gems and its local treasures, including the papayas and mangoes I’ll be picking up at the Farmer’s Market here today!

Posted on 09.04.08 at 7:14PM

Comment by Garrett

Sing it sister. Plus, $X for each and every event? I think not. I use local produce to devlop cake batters and various doughs and pastries and freeze them so I can enjoy them whenever I want.

I’ve complained before that the Eat Local, Slow FOod movement has moved to something Elite that only those who are financially able are allowed to enjoy, and then critique the rest of the world that they are uneducated (when in many cases, it’s called poor and underpaid). Slow Food here in Sac is the epitome of this, where these awareness events cost an arm and a leg. =P

Posted on 09.15.08 at 1:30PM

Comment by Tartelette

That’s it…I’m on the next plane!!

Posted on 09.20.08 at 7:30PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.