Somehow in 1986 in the small city of Bra in northwest Italy, some bright men, responding to the fast food craze, decided to found a non-profit association to defend quality foods and develop excellence in food production across Italy and in the world. Today that association is called Slow Food and has spread to more than 150 countries. And it’s here in New Mexico.
Twenty years ago Californian Ellen Lampert was a professor in Cologne, Germany. On occasion she went to meet a friend who ran a restaurant in Bourbon-Lancy, a medieval French town on the river Loire. “That restaurant followed Slow Food rules, and was a very inspiring undertaking at that time,” Miss Lampert says. Years later she settled in Santa Fe and, with a group of other foodie people, soon founded the local Slow Food chapter. Now she’s one of the organizers of the group that runs several activities in the City Different. “We have a wide variety of people in our chapter: farmers, food activists, the son of the former deputy prime minister of Afghanistan, somebody from Cameroon. We’re pretty diverse,” she explains in an interview during a recent chapter event in Santa Fe. “We are not typical of a U.S. Slow Food chapter, because people involved in this kind of activity in Santa Fe tend to be older.”
The chapter members meet once a month at Lampert’s house for “Dinner and a Book.” Everyone brings home-cooked food or drinks to share. After dinner the member discuss a book they were assigned to read in the previous thirty days. October’s book was ‘Yes, chef!’ by the renown Swedish-Ethiopian-American chef, Marcus Samuelsson. In past years they’ve discussed dozens of books, reflecting on the world of food and the role of food as an identity factor and element of culture. “The book for the following month is chosen by majority from a handful of titles,” Lampert says.