Tonight, I had the honor of attending a Slow Food Miami gathering where I was able to explore the organization and meet locals interested in the local food environment. It was hosted by prominent local chef Allen Susser who presented a simple home-grown vegetable and dip buffet with various dishes appearing throughout the night. There was even basil pineapple ice cream, though a part of me longed for the good old days of mint chocolate chip. I met several interesting people involved in the local growing scene, including the Worm Whisperer (whom we have not seen the last of on this journey) and Gabe of Seasons Farm Fresh, a distributer of local and Latin American fruit. Both shared their own perspective and insights into the local Miami food system, which I’ll share in future blog posts.
Slow Food is a movement started by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1989 as a rebuff to the growing presence of fast food chains in Italy. He wanted to get back to the enjoyment of life that comes from grandma’s lasagna and a cool glass of Tuscan wine. More than that, he saw the impinging fast food companies as a threat to local community, tradition, and the Italian people’s food autonomy. We may call him romantic for yearning for an era that some may say is obsolete and relatively unproductive. However, the presence of Slow Food in Miami, the mecca of fast sexy in-your-face desire fulfillment, points to a deeper reason for caring about communal food cultivation: it is the foundation of human socialization and community formation. That’s with a capital A-SHUN. Loci (I googled that) of human interaction such as gardens and communal dining areas change the hue of life into a celebration. Our sustenance appears right before us, it becomes the earth beneath us.
I have a privilege to attend dinners like this and ponder how I can enjoy locally-grown produce more thoroughly. But I’m ogling the fruits of a tree whose branches don’t reach all corners of America, let alone Miami. It’s roots are stubbed, unable to crack the concrete of the paved-over land once honored as sacred by the Native Americans. I call this collective root trauma, and it’s what the featured interviewee of the post, the president of Slow Food Miami, passionately points out in her talk with me. There are some hidden magical moments in the interview, like a spontaneous potluck party invitation and a sober reflection on the days when I just wanted to game in the basement even though guacamole was upstairs (Mom it’s not local enough!).
By situating ourselves in relation to the land, we can heal our severed roots while creating abundance.
Plus pics of Chef Allen’s local veg harvest (I’ll be tooting profusely this evening after eating those raw jerusalem artichokes):