'Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.' — Kierkegaard
As we've stated on several occasions, anything can be improved by slowing down. Eating well means not thinking about how quickly to get through a mealtime to get on to another task — it means actually taking a break to enjoy the food and the company.
The Slow Food movement started in Italy in 1986 to push back on the deleterious effects of fast food habits, on what we ate and the way we ate it, and the way we spent time eating together. The movement advocates 'sustainable foods and promotion of local small businesses' and sense of place in opposition to 'globalization of agricultural products'.
The movement has spread. I enjoyed a very nice meal in Asturias, Spain, recently at the hotel and restaurant Eutimio (top picture) in the coastal town of Lastres. Eutimio is part of Slow Food Spain and specialises in dishes that use the local seafood. Eutimio is part of a Slow Food initiative called Km 0, where all ingredients are sourced less than 100km (62 miles) away. A Km O sign outside a Spanish restaurant is one indicator that you're going to eat well.
The principles and objectives of the Slow Food movement have become more mainstream in recent years. Restaurants will now proudly boast of their local sourcing of food, sometimes to a zealous degree. Many restaurants now grow and rear their own ingredients. Local to Tweed Towers we have The Ethicurean near Bristol and Roth Bar & Grill at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Bruton, both committed to Slow Food ideals. We also have the Brown and Forrest smokery near Taunton; and for local fish and seafood on the coast of neighbouring Dorset, we have Crabhouse Café in Weymouth and the Hive Beach Café in beautiful Burton Bradstock. There are so many others.
UK-based readers can use the Slow Food UK website for information on the movement's activities in 'celebrating the rich food traditions of the different nations that make up the UK'.
Incidentally, The Ethicurean produces its own English Vermouth, The Collector, which is made from twenty botanicals they grow in the walled garden of their restaurant. Vermouth is a splendid drink for opening the appetite, and in Madrid it is sold on tap by the barrel as an accompaniment to all the tapas and jamón you may wish to scoff. Every time I write the work 'jamón' I just want to eat a plate of delicious jamón Ibérico de Bellota.
We should offer an unhurried saluti to Carlo Petrini for his no-less-than heroic efforts in starting the Slow Food revolution so that restaurants and suppliers could face off the onslaught of fast food chains and fight back successfully to keep delicious (seasonal and local) options on restaurant tables.