Slow Food Nation

I was able to spend a few days at the Slow Food Nation celebration in San Francisco last weekend, and I thought I'd post a few pictures....

I drove down to SF on Friday morning, and arrived around mid-day. Part of the event was this organic "Victory Garden" that was planted next to city hall. It was unusually warm and sunny for San Francisco - a beautiful day!

Check out that broccoli head! Most of the veggies were heirloom (old) varieties,

This is a traditional milpa, a traditional Native American planting of corn, beans, and squash.

All of the veggies were donated to the food bank. What a wonderful statement for the city to make!

I have to say that I think it was a bit of a mistake to hold this event in San Francisco though. California's bounty is already celebrated enough - wouldn't Iowa City or Ann Arbor or Madison have been better, more exciting choice? I think if Slow Food wanted to get rid of their stuffy elitist image, San Francisco wasn't really the best choice.... maybe I'm just being picky though....

At the end of the garden they had a "soap box" set up, with scheduled free speakers. I happened to walk by when Mas Masomoto was reading his poetry! He's a peach farmer/poet with roots in Japan. I've known of him and bought his peaches for years, but I've never seen him in person. He was reading his poetry along with traditional Japanese drums - it was wonderful! You can even watch in on You Tube!

On one side of the garden was a farmer's market, and food vendors on the other. There were a few cool things at the market, but overall I wasn't too impressed. It made me realize what a wonderful farmer's market we have in Arcata - I'm spoiled!

These heirloom apples did catch my eye though. What a beautiful display! I couldn't help but buy some.

There was also a booth selling Belgian endive - I guess most people grow it hydroponically, but not these people. This display showed how it develops - interesting!

There was also a pretty good informational compost display....

I then waled over to the Herbst Theater (just a few blocks away) to two panel discussions. The first, Relocalizaing Food, featured Michael Pollan, Winona La Duke, Gary Nabhan, and Dan Barber. It was really interesting and inspiring! If it ever shows up on You Tube, I'll be sure to link to it!

The second panel I went to was moderated by Eric Scholsser (author of Fast Food Nation.) It was a bit unorganized (all the speakers went way over, so there was no time left for questions from the audience at the end,) but it was still moving and inspiring. The speakers described the plight of farm workers in the US, and reminded the audience that any definition of "good" food must alway include a fair deal for the farm workers who do much of the hardest work involved in farming. Here in Humboldt County we don't really think about that too much - most of our farmers rely on just a few hired hands, and are nothing like large farms in other parts of the country. It's an important thing to remember!

The next morning I went to the "Taste Pavilions" on the waterfront at Fort Mason. I got there pretty early and took a walk up the hill overlooking the site. You can see the bread pavilion in the foreground - most of the action was inside the building on the bottom right, which is on a long pier going out into the bay.

This is a shot of people waiting for the taste pavilions to open, Notice the little trees?...

They were all different heirloom fruit trees! Each one had tag that told a little bit about it's history. I never did find out what they did with them after the event...planted them I hope!

The gates finally opened and people started steaming in. I headed inside the building that most of the pavilions were in and started out at the sausage pavilion. I'm not sure why I chose it - looking back, I'm not sure if a sausage tasting was the best was to start the day! This was the tasting menu - you got a little piece of each of these.

There were a bunch of people slicing and sampling....

I couldn't really stomach this one. I tried it, but it just didn't seem like the right thing to be eating at 11:00 in the morning. I'm sure it's really good in the right context!

Next stop was the cheese pavilion. I loved how they made walls out of Strauss Milk crates!

Lots if cheese, but I didn't see any from Wisconsin - What a travesty!

I couldn't resist this sign - amen sister!

This is the tea pavilion. Everyone sat down at tables and was shown how to steep tea in the traditional Japanese way. Fun! The tea was delicious too!

This is a lousy picture of the ice cream pavilion, but it's the best one I got. They were serving a sampler of sweet corn/blackberry, ginger, and creme brulee ice cream. The sweet corn was especially amazing - I'd say it was my favorite taste of the day. I could have eaten a lot more than the little scoop they gave me, that's for sure!

The chocolate pavilion was pretty cool too. They used wooden palates to make walls and hallways - very imaginative!

Volunteers getting chocolate for people to taste....

I didn't get a shot inside the honey pavilion, but it was a pretty neat design as well. I couldn't fit the ey in the picture, but the crates embedded in the wall spelled honey. They were serving a sampler of 4 honeys from different Bay Area location - you really could taste a difference!

This was a beautiful fish display that featured a bunch of fresh fish from the bay.


I was awestruck by the size of this bread snail! the snail is Slow Food's symbol.

Lots of beautiful bread was being exhibited at the bread pavilion.

This guy was doing a demonstration about different kinds of wheat. He had the audience taste a little of each of the varieties, and talked about their uses.

This was at the Native American pavilion. It's corn kernals, corn meal, and chili powder, and meant to symbolize the interconnected nature of all life.

By the time I left, the place was packed! I'd been at the tasting pavilions for almost three hours, and my taste buds were exhausted! I walked back to my car and headed over the Golden Gate Bridge home to Arcata. It was a great trip, but I left thinking about how good things are here in Humboldt, and excited to get home to start my September local challenge!
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