SPEED­ING UP TO SLOW DOWN

HT City - - City - SHARA ASHRAF

Food­ies, go slow on fast food! The slow food move­ment is fi­nally catch­ing up in In­dia. The grass­root not for profit or­gan­i­sa­tion spread­ing the con­cept global, has made an en­try into In­dia and col­lab­o­rated with culi­nary or­gan­i­sa­tion CAARA to launch one of the many farm-to-fork events

The world has shrunk at a fren­zied pace. You travel from one part of the globe to an­other in a day flat. You eat on the run, at your desk, while fin­ish­ing that pre­sen­ta­tion. You halt at the take away on your way back home, get your meal packed. You buy pre­pared, frozen meals that you ‘cook’ in your mi­crowave. And as you tune into your favourite food show, your fork makes its way into the thawed meal. Funny sit­u­a­tion, isn’t it? While you devour the most de­li­cious food re­views, and rel­ish cook­ery shows that cel­e­brate age-old food cul­tures and or­ganic food, you have no time to cook your­self a fresh, soul­ful meal! In­dia’s crowded fast food mar­ket is al­ready on an ex­pan­sion spree, with a slew of new en­trants perch­ing their tents in the coun­try. Re­ports in­di­cate that In­dia’s fast-food in­dus­try is ex­pected to dou­ble in size by 2016. Trends across the world re­flect that peo­ple are buy­ing pre­pared foods like never be­fore. The food that we eat of­ten tastes like industrial pro­duce, our health takes a back­seat, loads of preser­va­tives make way to our sys­tem, and we have no clue about where the food came from and how it was pro­cessed. We face an alarm­ing dis­con­nect when it comes to food cul­ture and her­itage. Does all this not mean one thing? Slow down! That’s what CAARA, (Culi­nary Arts & Re­search Academy) is try­ing to help us do. The culi­nary or­gan­i­sa­tion is one of the col­lab­o­ra­tors to help spread the fa­mous Slow Food move­ment in In­dia, started by Carlo Petrini in 1989 in Italy. Striv­ing to take up the fight against fast food, the move­ment is an ef­fort to pre­serve tra­di­tional cuisines. It pro­motes farm­ing of plants, seeds and live­stock to pro­mote lo­cal busi­nesses. The slow food move­ment de­buted ear­lier this year in Delhi with a supper cu­rated by CAARA cater­ing along with chef Pallavi Mithika Menon, who rep­re­sents the move­ment in North In­dia, and Chef Fabio An­tonini of the Slow Food Chefs Al­liance, Nether­lands. It fea­tured a five course menu us­ing lo­cal, chem­i­cal-free in­gre­di­ents. The or­gan­i­sa­tion will soon open a café at the Bri­tish Coun­cil, where one can find food made with chem­i­cal-free pro­duce, grown by CAARA’s sis­ter com­pany, Far­mLove. “The slow food move­ment aims to pre­vent the dis­ap­pear­ance of lo­cal food tra­di­tions, coun­ter­act the rise of fast life and com­bat peo­ple’s dwin­dling in­ter­est in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices af­fect the world around us,” says Alice Helme, co-founder CAARA, who along with part­ner Am­bika Seth, grows ev­ery­thing from herbs to fruits and veg­eta­bles at Far­mlove, their farm. “We are pas­sion­ate about us­ing lo­cal, sea­sonal pro­duce. We sup­port In­dian farm­ers, and the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Slow Food has been very suc­cess­ful,” says Seth. Chef Pallavi says that as a prod­uct of the In­dian ho­tel in­dus­try, her knowl­edge of food was the com­plete an­tithe­sis of her ex­pe­ri­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Gas­tro­nomic Sciences, the head­quar­ter of Slow Food, and that’s what she wants to share with oth­ers. “Be­ing a chef has a moral, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial con­no­ta­tion. The way you cook must re­flect lo­cal food cul­ture, high­light sea­sonal pro­duce and that’s what we are try­ing to do,” says Menon. The re­sponse that CAARA got in In­dia is heart­en­ing. “Ev­ery­one is ea­ger to adopt the slow food mantra. Bet­ter la­belling of re­tail food prod­ucts would help this process. Also, ev­ery­one should grow some­thing — plant fresh herbs on your bal­cony, toma­toes on your win­dow,” says Alice.

Ev­ery­one should grow some­thing. Plant herbs on your bal­cony, toma­toes on your win­dow Alice Helme

Am­bika Seth & Alice Helme, founders, CAARA

CAARA chef Pallavi Mithika Menon has put to­gether a menu that fea­tures dishes made with lo­cal, chem­i­cal-free in­gre­di­ents

Chef Fabio An­tonini of the Slow Food Chefs Al­liance, Nether­lands was in In­dia to launch the move­ment

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