petrini defines "good" as good to the palate, good to the mind, and good to others/self (respectful)
- he also describes food ( as i said in previous slow food posts) as a network and that it should be "good" , "clean", and "fair"
Petrini, author of Slow Food Nation, states that food should be thought of as a network of people, places, products, and knowledge. I, as most Americans seem to do, get caught up in the price I see rather than the importance of how that product came to be in my hands and everything it took to “be”. Petrini opened my eyes to finding out more about the food I am putting in my mouth, after all it conveys such values as happiness, identity, and pleasure.
Let me endulge you with my trip to the State Fair, and whether it was “good” as Carlo Petrini defines it in Slow Food Nation. When we arrived, our first course was disappointingly, $8, chili cheese fries. The cheese was clearly some remade processed goo that was probably chemically engineered and I could make better chili in my sleep to be quite honest. The fries were frozen potatoes again I could easily do better. I was hoping to get some amazing tasting stuff. My palate was aching for some fried goodies. After reading Petrini, I feel more inclined to buy potatoes from the Farmer’s Market down the street from my house, cut them up, fry them in oil, add cheddar and my homemade chili, and it would have been cheaper for me, given a local farmer business, boost the local economy, and TASTE better above all! I couldn’t help but be disappointed that the classic cheese fries, were not “good for my palate”.
On to course number two or rather lack there of; Fried Turkey Legs. I knew it was naïve of me to think there would be turkey legs from turkey’s raised at cage-free at semi-local farms but they were abnormally huge chunks of dark meat. Before Slow Food Nation, I never thought about that turkey leg being part of a turkey that was injected with such a great deal of hormones and antibiotics allowing it to grow that size. I could not bear to eat it because those hormones would be put into me. I had no desire to perpetuate (even in the slightest) to that kind of treatment to animals or processing of that as food. It was not “good for my mind.”
On a more positive note, I skip ahead to dessert because the last component for whether or not a food can be considered “good”, i.e “Does it respect others and ourselves?” (page 109), was fulfilled here. I found gourmet apples, not the red caramel apples at every other stand, rather a gourmet apple called “The Big Kahuna Super Monster”. As I looked at the description, I noticed it cost $8. The apple, larger than the size of a softball, had been rolled in caramel, then rolled in whole macademia nuts, then rolled in white chocolate marshmallow, then rolled in dark chocolate. I thought about what it took to make that apple, imagining myself rolling the apple in the caramel, in whole imported nuts, waiting for it to dry before coating it again in white chocolate, having to wait to cover it in dark chocolate. I imagined the cost of the chocolate, the nuts, the apple, the stick, the caramel, and paying the employee that is spending the time to do this. By looking at this food as a network, I decided within a few seconds that this apple would be more worth the $8 than those chili cheese fries.
I cannot be sure if any of my food that evening was “clean” or “fair” as Petrini defines. I can only assume that there was pollution, waste of resources, overuse of resources, and unfair trading prices (page 116) on most parts for these vendors. Do these foods / vendors create wealth and establish a more equitable order among people (page 143)? I doubt that could be possible considering the price of everything, the electricity and gas pollution of all the buildings and vehicles it takes to make the event possible. Did I make a mistake as a consumer by not pushing the vendors for more information on how they got their products, where, or when? Yes, I feel as though I did.
While reading Slow Food Nation, it seems as if I am or maybe just the American public is, at least slightly becoming more aware of how food is a network and more than just a mouthful of nutrients to fill up an empty stomach. I noticed a new show on a new channel, Planet Green, that discusses the very same principles in Slow Food Nation. It describes the problem with food that is not good, clean and fair, giving its audience ways to improve their habits so it can improve the earth. Subsequently, I stumbled upon an episode from a common television show, Oprah, regarding the conditions of caged animals versus cage free. This should give hope to authors and movement supporters of Slow Food; there are people listening who can influence consumers and reach out to their target audience to hopefully teach new gastronomes and bring the producer closer to the consumer ( an ultimate goal of new gastronomes).
Monday, October 27, 2008