Over decades, food has retained a reputation of uniting people together. For committee member Elina Garreffa, Slow Food Mildura is all about sharing the joy of food with like-minded people in rustic settings. Lauren Adcock chats with Elina about the history of Slow Food and why it’s as important as ever to celebrate food culture.
Slow foood roots
Slow Food is a global organisation founded 30 years ago to preserve local food cultures and traditions and educate people on the impact of food choices.
Millions of people around the world have jumped on the movement to ensure their communities have access to good, clean and fair food sources.
The organisation’s philosophy is that making wise choices can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed and change the world as a result.
Slow Food Mildura
When Elina learnt about the global organisation, she quickly realised the potential for her family to become involved.
“We first became members of Slow Food in 2001,” she says.
“When I started to learn a little more about the organisation, I realised we were already doing many of the things here at home that Slow Food promoted.
“We had the first Slow Food dinner in our vineyard in 2002 and people came from all over the world.”
Elina says she was “amazed” at the power of food uniting people together.
“Slow Food Mildura exists to promote acquiring food as close as possible to where you are and celebrating the traditions and culture of food,” she says.
“It’s all about enjoying and sharing the food we grow in the company of others.”
Elina says being part of the organisation is an opportunity to educate others and share food knowledge.
“Over the years, we’ve had dinners in our vineyard and love passing on our knowledge to others who embrace food culture,” she says.
“We realised people were really interested in the traditional, homemade foods our family enjoyed, so we also started having get-togethers where people would come and join in on bread-making days or learning how to make tomato sauce.”
Favourite memories sharing food
Elina’s rich Italian background is behind her cooking ability and extensive food knowledge.
She reflected on one of her favourite cooking memories, when she treated members to a blood pudding.
“Growing up in an Italian family, we were taught and raised that you never waste anything,” she says.
“So, at one of our Slow Food meetings, I made a beautiful blood pudding out of pigs’ blood left over from salami, chocolate almonds, milk, nutmeg and citrus rind.
“It’s an acquired taste and you cut it like you would cut a fruit cake.”
Elina says she kept the ingredients a secret from meeting attendees as part of the “guessing game”.
“I didn’t let anyone know what it was and presented it beautifully with a bay leaf and a little serving plate,” she says.
“Everyone loved it and started guessing the ingredients until finally, one of the chefs guessed it was blood pudding.
“If you can produce something that everyone’s going to enjoy and they’ve never tried before, that’s a really great feeling.”
How to join the Slow Food family
Elina encourages Sunraysia residents to consider joining Slow Food Mildura.
“We’re always looking for new people who can share new ideas, whether they want to become members or join the committee,” she says.
“If anyone is interested in learning about what we do or becoming part of the group, we’re inviting people to come along to a free night in August, where we’ll supply finger food.
“Sharing food and knowledge with others is at the core of what motivates the organisation and gives us fulfilment.”
The free information night will be held on August 8 at 6.30pm at Botanica Cuisine.