Sicily The Slow Food Movement

Savour the Slow Food Movement in Sicily

Alex Shaked
by Alex Shaked

October 25, 2023

3 minute read

Make yourself a snack and get comfortable. I’ve got a story for you.

It’s 1986, and McDonald’s was itching and ready to open their first location in Italy. The proposed site was near the iconic Piazza di Spagna, or Spanish Steps, in Rome. And despite the fast food company’s famed tagline, political activist Carlo Petrini was NOT lovin’ it.

He could have organized a traditional protest with signs, pamphlets, and picketers, but why fight with fire when you can fight with food? Carlo and his friends gathered in the piazza and dished out penne to the passersby. According to the New York Times archives, there were thousands of people there, standing up against McDonald’s.

These people didn’t want neon golden arches in front of the 300-year-old landmark, and they didn’t want burgers or fries. Carlo and company wanted traditional, local food and they wanted to enjoy it at a leisurely pace.

This pasta protest led to the birth of the Slow Food movement, an organization that has since grown to 100,000 people in 150 countries. Three years after Romans stood up against fast food, the Slow Food Manifesto was released.

The beginning of this manifesto is as follows:

Born and nurtured under the sign of Industrialization, this century first invented the machine and then modelled its lifestyle after it. Speed became our shackles. We fell prey to the same virus: 'the fast life' that fractures our customs and assails us even in our own homes, forcing us to ingest ‘fast- food’.

Homo sapiens must regain wisdom and liberate itself from the 'velocity' that is propelling it on the road to extinction. Let us defend ourselves against the universal madness of 'the fast life' with tranquil material pleasure.

Against those - or, rather, the vast majority - who confuse efficiency with frenzy, we propose the vaccine of an adequate portion of sensual gourmandise pleasures, to be taken with slow and prolonged enjoyment.

Appropriately, we will start in the kitchen, with Slow Food. To escape the tediousness of ‘fast-food’, let us rediscover the rich varieties and aromas of local cuisines.

These are some strong words, but then again, so is the word “manifesto.” Quick service restaurants have a time and a place, but certainly there’s something special about meals that have been prepped with time and care. And Sicily? Sicily is the right place to see this in action.

Sicily has a reputation for a leisurely pace, almost akin to island time. Patience is a virtue here, and that’s true everywhere from the sidewalk to the dinner table.

So, what do you say? Finish up that snack I told you to get earlier and start getting ready for a meal.

Imagine embarking on a culinary exploration of the Ragusa countryside. Pause at a family-owned winery to learn about their natural wine production and their support of the Slow Food movement conserving traditional food production methods. Then sample some of their wines during lunch.

You don’t have to go right now. It’s best to take your time and really let the flavours of those Sicilian meal dreams get richer.

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