In 1986, protesters commandeered the Piazza di Spagna in Rome. They brandished bowls of penne as signs of their discontent; a McDonald’s shall not pollute this Italian cultural stronghold! Out of this good-natured frustration at the possible arrival of a fast-food giant grew Slow Food, which has amassed over 100,000 members in 153 countries. This movement has the will of one man to thank: Slow Food president and founder Carlo Petrini.
Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to hear one of Petrini’s famed sermons when he came to Yale for a day as part of his college speaking tour. He arrived mid-morning, and spent an hour with an Italian class, and headed up to the Yale Farm to enjoy some unorthodox New Haven pizza, topped with freshly harvested veggies and cooked in our wood-burning oven. From the moment Petrini arrived, he took to the bustle of the Farm. He walked through the garden and straight to the oven, where I stood about to load in a pizza. I speak no Italian, but luckily Petrini has developed a talent for evocative gesturing. Moving his hands exuberantly, he communicated to me that he would like to try! Politely taking the pizza peel from my hand, Petrini slid the pizza into the oven. After several plates of pizza and some much appreciated praise from the man himself about our thin crust, Petrini headed off to tour the garden. He discussed composting methods with our farm managers and tasted the last of our Sungold tomatoes, stalwarts hanging on in early fall. (A couple of days later, we would clear their remains to make way for winter crops.) He was excited to see we were growing collards, a leafy green he’d developed a taste for on a recent trip to Georgia. As the afternoon began to fade away, Petrini was ushered down the hill to prepare for his impending lecture. Read the full article and view a photo slideshow at The Atlantic. Carlo Petrini is the author of Terra Madre: Forging a New Global Network of Sustainable Food Communities, available now.