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Terra Madre – Part 2

October 29, 2010

Saturday and Sunday were a bit more relaxed. On Saturday I did a bit of work at my hosts’ flat in the morning and then spent the afternoon wandering around the Salone del Gusto at Terra Madre, sampling lots of exciting breads, cheeses, olive oils, whatever else was on offer…. In the evening, a group of people from my course went for a drink at a place called ‘Eataly’ – if I had to describe it, it would be “like an organic supermarket, except not obnoxious.” It also had a restaurant, a ‘birreria’ where we had to wait for them to wash the glasses before we could order our beer, and a wine bar where we went afterwards and had wine and food. Most people were having nice relaxed conversations about various things, but my professor, two other students and I were thrashing out the draft of abstract for our section of the policy document. Frankly, I think all tutorials should be held over wine and gnocchi, but then I also think that Saturday evenings should be spent doing something other than tutorials.* Swift drink with hosts at the British beer stand in the Salone del Gusto, then home to collapse into bed.

[Aside: the UK was represented by the beer, game (indeed, by Yorkshire Game, who supplied the farm shop I worked in for my first ever job, which made me quite proud), oysters, and salt.]

On Sunday I dipped into a couple of workshops and scratched the surface of the Salone again, and then met the other students for a meeting to feed back on our experiences and discuss the different sections of the document we were working on. Generally pretty successful, we all felt good afterwards. Then we took the bus to the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony was also really inspiring. It was briefly interrupted by animal rights protesters, but they were allowed to speak instead of being hauled off by security, which I thought was great, although the speakers didn’t really engage with what they said. Otherwise, the speakers were great – especially Manfred Max-Neef who I hadn’t come across before the course but who was really engaging. Petrini finished – he said the reason it had taken until the fourth Terra Madre to start working on a policy document was because it was important to establish engagement with the food communities first in order for it to be properly inclusive. He also encouraged us all to take the energy and inspiration from Terra Madre and the wonderful people we’d met there back into our work in our own communities. Which is a good lesson, and tough to live up to. (I mean, it’s easier while I’m still in Italy, but I imagine it’ll be easy to get ground down by everyday life once I get home. Bah.) I looked round at all the people cheering and actually teared up a little… And then there was DANCING! Music from amazing performers, people taking the flags from the stage and dancing underneath them… This sounds incredibly cheesy, but there was just a lot of love. Throughout the whole thing, really. I’ll miss being able to just randomly talk to interesting people all the time. =) Someone struck up a conversation with me in the lunch queue, and I only realised afterwards that he was an eminent plant scientist.

Despite having an absolutely amazing time, I felt I hadn’t quite made the most of the Salone as I’d spent so much time working. So I had planned to go back on Monday to sample some more delicacies and possibly do a wine-tasting. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically given what I had been eating in the past few days, I was struck by an intense but mercifully brief stomach bug. Bah. Actually too disappointed for words, though my hosts looked after me well. (Also, fear this is some kind of worrying metaphor for my life…)

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* Though actually, I found it rather invigorating and enjoyable. Because I am a massive geek.

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