a global movement away from the shortcuts of fast food, processed ingredients and unsustainable practices.
"Slow Food has been almost like a religion to me," says Poppy Tooker, stirring a pan of sizzling okra in an instructional video for her Bobby Flay-besting seafood gumbo. The chef and epicurean teacher practices what she preaches. In 1999, Tooker founded the New Orleans chapter of Slow Food, an international organization that has developed over two decades into a grassroots global movement.
It's the brainchild of Carlo Petrini, an Italian food writer and educator whose regional campaign in 1986 to oppose a McDonald's opening in Rome now includes more than 83,000 members in 122 countries. (The U.S. alone has more than 200 chapters and 16,000 members.) Slow Food has reams of spin-off philosophies, but at its core are three basic principles: What we eat should be good (healthy and delicious), clean (healthful for ourselves and the environment) and fair (universally accessible and humanely produced).
One recent organizational focus is cataloging the U.S. Ark of Taste, an endangered-species listing of more than 200 culturally significant foods on the brink of extinction. For Tooker, this ranges from singing the praises of New Orleans French bread or Creole cream cheese to reincarnating and reintroducing rice calas, the pillowy street fritters of the French Quarter of old. Such keys to New Orleans' culinary vault are collected in her recent Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook, available at www.marketumbrella.org. — Noah Bonaparte Pais