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"Slow food" fast to gain as trend
Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — In an eat-on-the-go culture bulging with drive-through windows and frozen dinners, a Skagit County group has decided to slow things down and rediscover the pleasure of food, drink and good company.
The group is armed with picnic baskets, place settings and plentiful appetites for savory, non-fast-food cuisine.
Not a single hot dog, hamburger or potato chip showed up on the table during the inaugural potluck last month at the Rexville Grocery. Instead, group members dined on ling cod caught fresh the same day and oysters marinated the night before in brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and green onion and smoked that morning.
With that bountiful feast, the "slow-food" movement officially arrived in Skagit County.
Meant as the antithesis of fast food, slow food is an international trend started in the mid-1980s in Italy as a reaction to the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Rome.
Today, slow food has evolved into a self-described "eco-gastronomic" nonprofit organization that celebrates local food traditions and sustainability through educational events and outreach activities, all with the aim of fighting the homogenization of food.
The 80,000-member organization is divided into local chapters, called conviviums. This is Skagit County's first convivium, called Slow Food Skagit River Salish Sea.
"Slow food covers everything from supporting the local economy to encouraging families to sit down together for dinner," said Donald Harper, who helped found the local convivium. "The goal is to support the producers and artisans, but it's also about the pleasures of the table."
"I really believe slow food will be big here," said Stuart Welch, the Rexville Grocery owner who hosted the group's first official dinner.
Elsewhere, the slow-food movement is helping to revitalize 147 distinct foods in the United States that have all but disappeared from the culinary landscape.
In Seattle, slow-food members are working to resurrect the Ozette potato, which came from Peru by way of Spanish explorers and into the hands of the Makah Tribe at Neah Bay in the 1700s, said Gerry Warren, who helped establish slow food in the Northwest around 10 years ago.
The potatoes were used for around 200 years before they began fading away, he said. Today, they're only available in seed form.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company