SPEEDING UP TO SLOW DOWN
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