Slow food fair:
Traveling to Salone del Gusto 2018 in Torino
When you are always looking for the newest ingredients and food trends, like we do, it is sometimes good to take a step back and look at what good food products are already out there and what market potential of those products is maybe still left unused.
A good chance for that is the Slow food fair Salone del Gusto in Torino, where most traditional and handcrafted food products get presented by mostly small and medium enterprises. Starting from handcrafted cheese and ham, over pastry and vegetables, to traditionally made soy sauce. A brought variety of products, coming from mostly Italian food and beverage companies, but also roughly one-quarter of products, coming from international companies, flying in from all over the world to that fair.
Looking at and tasting the traditional and handcrafted food products on the Slow food fair makes you notice that you don't always have to develop a totally new product, using new ingredients and high-tech machinery to come up with a good product. Sometimes it is just about how to use known ingredients and machinery and maybe your hands right and of course giving products also a decent amount of time to develop the desired flavor. Especially the cheeses on this fair are a proof for this. You won't find cheeses like these usually in the supermarkets, which had so many months of ripening and got so much attention from the producer during this ripening process leading to a great taste development.
Not only the cheeses on that fair show that time is often the secret ingredient for great taste. Also, soy sauces, like the wu wan wo (Forget me not) soy sauce from Taiwan, show that slower production process can benefit the taste profiles of a product. This soy sauce, for example, ran through a traditional and slower brewing process than the usual industrial brewing process and doesn't contain any additional wheat, which is often used to accelerate the fermentation. In addition, it spent 180 days terra cotta pots afterward, which gives it even more chances to develop complex flavors. Connected with the usage of an indigenous black soybean variety, just a great tasting soy sauce.
Using indigenous fruit and vegetable varieties or even animal breeds is another secret of many products, presented on the Salone del Gusto fair. We often forget how much taste and texture differences there can be within one kind of vegetable or fruit and how many different old underutilized varieties there are, which can be a great source for new products. Especially, for the hunt of new vegetable proteins, I think we often underestimate the value of these old varieties a lot. There were a lot of old been, pea and lentil varieties at that fair, which could add great taste and texture to vegan food and maybe also vegan milk alternatives.
Of course it would take a lot of effort to scale the production of such varieties to a greater level and of course there was probably a reason, why they go underutilized in the past, but we can find new ways of by developing new innovative products with such old varieties and make these more interesting for the consumer, producers and thereby farmers again.
An ambitious goal of course, but a goal worth following, as we will otherwise just lose these resources for food innovations if we don't use them.
So my advice is: Old, but gold. Join the next Salone del Gusto fair in two years and learn from the great experience of old craftsmen and women, as well as their traditional techniques and varieties they use, because the source of innovation is not always laying in front of us.