Italy and Madagascar and Hungary and Cambodia, oh my!

For a foodie it is Disney World, or the Taj Mahal or the World Series, no the World Cup because it is truly world wide.

Yes the biennial extravaganza of gastronomy or gluttony, depending on your point of view, known as Salone del Gusto arrived in Turin once again.  The five-day event is an amazing combination of eating, shopping, tasting, classes, lectures, and demonstrations. The mass of humanity can be a bit like Walmart’s 6am shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Your only limits are the scale when checking your luggage at the airport (damn I did have room for that bottle of Genepy, a sage-like herbal digestive in liked), your bathroom scale, soooo much to taste, or your bank account, there is no free lunch even at Salone.  And what the beagles allow you to bring back into the US without losing it.

Region by region Italy’s best selling, as well as traditional, products are showcased.  And this year beer is big in every region.  That of course would never make it home, much less out of Turin.

And as much as I love me Italian products, I sampled the Colanata lardo every time I went by, I find I am more intrigued with the other countries offerings.

A man waves vanilla beans under my nose, “Madagascar,” he says.  It smells heavenly, and I buy them.  You can never have too many vanilla beans.  Besides, I want to make vanilla extract out of rum.  Oh yeah it’s gonna be good. . .

“Yogurt and white chocolate, try,” a woman says with a bright smile, “Iceland tradition.”  I try and it is very good.  The small paragraph in English says it is white chocolate with a filling of skyr yogurt (much thicker than Greek yogurt) ” and has the shape of a cow’s teat.” It would make an interesting dessert presentation.  But I’m not entirely sure how native white chocolate is to Iceland.  When I ask, she tells me it is a collaboration between the dairy and a design school.

I am very happy to see the wooly pigs are there and I recognize the woman I visited in Hungary.  No samples though.  And yes, they do look like sheep with thick wooly coats necessary to withstand the harsh Hungarian winters.  I have pictures somewhere.

Sea salt and honey are predominant offerings from many of the smaller countries and food communities. Uruguay makes a very tasty Dulche de Leche liquor FYI.  Pepper corns from Cambodia and Madagascar taste just a bit different.  Lentils, grains, rice and beans, dried and smoked fish products, chocolate, teas and coffee were all there.  As were the Camel wool producers of Ahal, Turkmenistan, the shea butter producers from Burkino Faso, the date producers from Jericho, and the frankincense producers from Somalia.

The breadth of counties and products is fascinating.  I can’t believe I missed the Viennese Snail Breeders and the reindeer suovas from Sweden, what was I thinking!

– Lisa Frank, Frank & Delicious, is attending Terra Madre, 2012.


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