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Slow Food: The Case for Taste (Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History) Paperback – August 11, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Slow Food, a group of 75,000 members that supports recognition of traditional foods and eating patterns (e.g., the family meal), is an important player in today's battle for the palates and stomachs of the world. As "The Official Slow Food Manifesto" states, "Slow Food is an idea that needs plenty of qualified supporters," but to find them, it's going to need more friendly material than this didactic screed. Italian journalist Petrini founded the group in 1989, changing the name of a previous organization from Arcigola to Arcigola Slow Food in response to the opening of a McDonald's in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, a development described in excruciating detail. Petrini's condescending tone ("When you see the word `flavorings' on the package, don't imagine that it always refers to natural substances") isn't helped by a clumsy translation that adheres to Italian syntax. It's a shame, because the elitist tone and convoluted language obscure Petrini's informed opinions on genetically modified organisms and nutritional education in the schools (he references mainly Italian public schools). Petrini's case against McDonald's is perhaps his strongest card, but it's geared mainly to an Italian, or at least European, audience (it's doubtful that many American parents comfort themselves with the thought that "when they're old enough the kids will develop a taste for Barolo") and more thorough and better written arguments have already been made, most notably in Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Neither a cookbook nor a foodie memoir, Slow Food is nevertheless an important work.... Petrini's work is both a philosophical treatise and a history of the movement all in one slim volume, yet it suffices.

(Library Journal (starred review))

I always felt like Groucho Marx, who said he would never join a club that'd have him as a member, but Slow Food is far more spiritual, nay, religious, than any club (or religion, for that matter) I have been asked to join. Count me in. Carlo Petrini's Slow Food out-Prousts Proust, out-LaRousses LaRousse and out-Artusis Artusi and makes sense for the dreamers and doers of our times.

(Mario Batali)

Everyone who enjoys quality time with fine wines and food should enjoy this book.

(Robert Mondavi)

If eating is such an intimate, internal process, shouldn't we take the utmost care in selecting everything we consume? Petrini makes persuasive arguments for doing just that.

(Maria C. Hunt San Diego Tribune)

Petrini writes with a seasoned eye for telling detail, and a willingness to provide shocking sweets for his presumed anti-globalization readership...At 155 pages, Slow Food may tempt you to race through it, eager to get to the appendices with mouthwatering examples of products to die for...and descriptions of exotic delicacies from around the world. The 'Slow Read' movement advises you to take your time.

(Carlin Romano Philadelphia Inquirer)

Petrini tells the story of the movement's origins and successes inSlow Food: The Case for Taste... The book also outlines the philosophy behind good eating.

(Bell'Italia Magazine)

"Petrini--an Italian whose charming prose ripples with gustatory rapture and thrasonical outbursts--pleads with us to slow down"

(Mark Winne In These Times)
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Product Details

  • Series: Arts and Traditions of the Table: Perspectives on Culinary History
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (August 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231128452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231128452
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eric J. Lyman on April 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Though the Slow Food is making appropriately Slow headway into U.S. consciousness, it has been an important and well-known influence on Italian culinary values for years. Slow Food: The Case for Taste is a good way to figure out what all the attention is about.

For anyone who doesn't know, Slow Food is the antithesis of "fast food," as it is represented by drive through burger restaurants, coffee in a to-go cup, and ready-to-eat microwave dinners. The 17-year-old organization was born from opposition to the opening of a McDonald's restaurant in Rome's iconic Piazza di Spagna (the effort was unsuccessful: that particular location is still open and it serves more than 8,000 hamburgers a day). From that beginning, it evolved to promote eateries that use fresh ingredients and preserve historical cuisines, to fund educational programs, and to encourage the movement's members to stop and smell the roses (and then to have a nice plate of pasta and glass of wine afterwards).

I'm a fan of many aspects of the Slow Food movement: I don't think there's a better guide to Italian restaurants than the Osterie d'Italia guide (available only in Italian). And the organization's educational programs have certainly heightened the awareness of good food and wine in Italy, something I have clearly benefited from. Overall, the emphasis on good, well-made, and unpretentious food and wine is something almost everyone can enjoy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's rare to find a book that's informative, convivial, and inspiring. Carlo Petrini's Slow Food: The Case for Taste is such a book. True to his Italian character and culture, he describes the Slow Food movement with style and exuberance. He would make a convert of me if I had not already embraced his philosophy for the "good life". I share his passion for excellence in food and wine and the responsibilities that are attached to this pleasure. Petrini would make an excellent dinner guest, bringing gusto and reverence for the meal served and adding intelligent, sometimes jovial chatter throughout each course.
Back in the 70s, E.F. Schumacher wrote Small is Beautiful, creating a movement that eventually became a cliche. In smallness we find our human scale and through smallness it is possible to express our uniqueness. The Slow Food movement has taken this concept and added a few additional ingredients which make life pleasurable. I think Petrini's book can have as strong of an impact on the new millennium as Schumacher's book had in the 70s.
Much credit should be given to the translators for maintaining the integrity of Petrini's literary style.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Slow Food: The Case for Taste" begins the way a book with this name should begin -- slowly. After a series of introductions you are plunged into the world of Bra, Italy in a manner that is a cultural geographer’s dream. We are set in place, in time, and made to understand the why of the region and how it fits into the whole of Italy. Then -- the food. Though Piemonte, where Bra is located, had not been a gastronomically recognized region, this was about to change. The smells of the town evolved from tannin -- from the cattle hide and leather industry -- to food, and not just any food, but a celebration of food as it should be, tasty, loving, and using the local just-in-time ingredients and specialties.

Two of the hallmarks of what would become the slow food movement are that it is not the aristocratic elite gluttons of past gastronomic societies, but instead a communal left movement, using the simple, local, and moderate foods of a region that have developed in specific places at specific times. In many ways slow food would become a regional geography of gastronomy, recognizing the individuality of places, their soils, climates, elevation, and combining this with the human adaptations to places, culture, and the unique equations that each place has created in history. The movement, while still centered in Italy, spread throughout Europe, and has reached the US and not a moment too soon. Personally, I am tired of being directed to the local “restaurant row” only to find a neon battered-fried gulch. Petrini has helped to bring back the osteria, a quotidian Italian restaurant in every small town “promoting local identities, the proper use of raw ingredients, and the revival of convivial values and simple, seasonal flavors.
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Format: Hardcover
"May suitable doses of of guaranteed sensual pleasure and slow, long-lasting enjoyment preserve us from the contagion of the multitude who mistake frenzy for efficiency." -Slow Food "Manifesto"
Far from what one of the "professional" reviewers here at Amazon called "didactic" (although I think he meant to say "pedantic"), Carlo Petrini sets out in brief (110 pages), a concise explanation of the need for Slow Food. While one may indeed need to be literate to understand what he has to say, it is nonetheless an approachable, comprehensible explanation of a maligned and misunderstood movement. Slow Food is NOT just a bunch of yuppie foodies stuffing their craws with foie gras. Recognizing that the enjoyment of wholesome food is essential to the pursuit of hapiness, Slow Food is an educational organization dedicated to stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production; to the revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture and community; to the invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions; and to living a slower and more harmonious rhythm of life.
How can you argue with that? We will take an enourmous leap forward when we as a country and a culture put as much thought and effort into our food as we do into our entertainment. Read the book and stop being enslaved by the industrial standardization of tastes.
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