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Oct 18, 2011

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The Slow Food Movement, Shepherds and Artisanal Cheese

I was reading up on American Cheese Month (October, in case you didn't know), and all the activities scheduled across the country in celebration of CHEESE - once described by Clifton Fadiman as "milk's leap into immortality". That bit of research took me in roundabout fashion to the Slow Food Movement and the BRA Cheese Festival in BRA, Italy. This event is held every 2 years and this year, tooke place September 16-19, 2011. You can find out more about the Slow Food Movement, now with chapters in 132 countries, at But briefly, the Slow Food Movment was founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986, as the altervative to Fast Food, as the vehicle to promote and preserve traditional and regional cuisines, and to encourage the growth of sustainable foods, preservation of local ecosystems and livestock. The Cheese Festival is the biggest in the world with well over 100,000 people attending from far beyond the shores of Italy. Hundreds of varieties of cheese from around the world are on display for tasting and sale, throughout the town square of BRA. Tastings, judgings, workshops, and recently, a renewed focus on the ancient practice of transumanza or transhumance, which is the seasonal movement of grazing cows and sheep from valleys up to mountain pastures in springtime, and the reverse movement in fall - are all part of the festival. In fact, there was a recent Italian television program highlighting the importance of shepherds and the pastoral life throughout the ancient history of Italy. The Festival is a colorful gathering of tourists, artisan cheesemakers, affineurs (those specialists who care for, age and mature cheeses), cheese sellers and Shepherds! Well worth a visit sometime. The word Shepherds caught my eye. Good grief! Yes, of course. Wherever you find grazing sheep in valleys and on mountain tops, there you will find shepherds to care for them. Shepherds, along with their dogs, like the Anatolian Shepherd breed. Yes, even in 2011, in a world of violence, conflict, partisanship, fear, greed, poverty and homelessness - in this same world of reality t.v. and tweeting and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills - co-existing in their seemingly parallel universe, are the shepherds. In Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland and many other countries, and even in Utah (many Basque shepherds work out west in the U.S.), shepherds still guard their flocks. I find this oddly comforting somehow, as I do the concept of Slow Food and the mission of the Slow Food Movement. Their history is still part of our present, if you just look for it. The contrast between, for example, a Michael Douglas in his role in the movie Wall Street, or Kevin Spacey in the new film, Margin Call - and a lonely shepherd is jarring. Some things have stayed the same. Just saying. Cheers from the Gourmet Cheese Detective.  (Oct 19, 2011 | post #1)

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Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

When I'm Not on Topix:

I am sampling artisanal cheeses, paired with the perfect cheeses

Favorite Things:

Artisanal Cheese, Wine, France, Tennis, Dogs

On My Mind:

The 7 dwarfs i.e. the Republican candidates

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