THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “It was a small bowl of coloured rice with an assortment of vegetables and spices. They added some sauce to it. And it was the most amazing food I have tasted… so many different tastes in a small bowl,” said Finnian Fuhrer of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy, describing the spicy relish of Bhelpuri.
Not only Mr. Fuhrer, the entire 15-member delegation from the University that is touring the country as part of their postgraduate course work, was just as impressed by the variety of ethnic foods in India. The delegation, which was in the city on Saturday, visited the Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA) here where they interacted with Principal Secretary for Power and Port L. Radhakrishnan.
“The University of Gastronomic Sciences was established in 2004 by Carlos Petrini, founder of the Slow Food International movement. Every year, the students of the University visit different parts of the globe as part of their field study to gain hands-on experience about the various ethnic food cultures of the world,” said University tutor Davide Nicolino at a media interaction held at the CISSA. “As we sit here, we have three more delegations from our University visiting Cuba, Morocco and Spain,” he added.
The delegation in India has already visited Dehra Dun in Uttarakhand and New Delhi. The team members also visited the fishing community at Anjuthengu, in the outskirts of the city, to learn about the traditional fishing practices in Kerala. They will visit Kochi to learn about commercial fishing practices.
“Slow Food International was founded in 1989 in Italy to fight against fast-food culture and to conserve the biodiversity of ethnic food. Today, it has grown into a 10,01,000-member organisation spread across 150 countries,” said vice- president of Slow Food International and University student John Kariuki. Our main event is a biennial meeting of food communities from across the world called ‘Terra Madre’ (Mother Earth) held in Italy. We had around 100 representatives from India at the ‘Terra Madre’ held in 2008, he said.
In India, the Slow Food movement is working in collaboration with Navdhanya, founded by environmentalist Vandana Shiva. “We work at the grassroots level among local and small-scale farmers to create awareness about the dangers of GM food and the entry of food corporates. We are also involved in the conservation of ethnic foods that are on the brink of extinction,” Mr. Kariuki said.
Replying to queries from the students, Mr. Radhakrishnan said though the State government had resisted the cultivation of GM crops in Kerala, GM food cultivation and sales were legal in India. .