I returned to Torino this time for a one credit weekend class that was being offered. The class focused on the diverse food and culture that can be found in Torino, especially at the Porto Pallazzo market, it focused further on the Slow Food Movement which began in Torino. This trip included a visit to the Fontanafredda winery which originally sold Mirafiore wine, and was established by King Vittorio Emanuele and his mistress, who then became his wife, Rosa. Rosa was an Austrian peasant but was Vittorio’s favorite, he finally decided to marry her through a wedding which did not name her as Queen. Vittorio however, created the title of Countess of the region just for her. Today the estate is still decorated in an Austrian fashion due to Rosa, and the buildings are painted in yellow and pink stripes, a symbol of the royal family, in fact these stripes also appear on many of the wine bottles! We were able to tour through the small museum and wine making process then we were served a fantastic wine tasting and meal!
Not knowing much about wine it was hard to really appreciate much of the importance, but it was interesting to learn a few facts. First that I thought was cool is the wine flavor changes drastically based on the size of the barrel and casts and thickness of the wood it is stored in. It is such a small thing I never had thought about it. Second you can tell how alcoholic a wine is before drinking, and that is why people swirl their wine. if you swirl it watch the residue rings along the glass, the slower they fall the more alcohol, the faster, the more sugar.
Our meal was fantastic we got a local specialty: agnolotti, a small stuffed pasta, with butter sauce. We also were served the greatest
ice cream I have ever had in my life, it was plain vanilla with some swirls of butterscotch, it was so creamy and thick with barely any air. The wines were good but I dream about that ice cream.
We then were able to visit an adorable little town of Potenzia which houses the Bank of Wine and the Universita degli Studi Scienze Gastronomiche. I discovered I would love to go to this University, they offer masters, and I think some Bachelors in English, along with apprenticeship studies. They do not focus on cooking but more the science of food, or how food and culture or media interact.
Our second day consisted of going to Porto Pallazzo Market, where we visited immigrant areas and were able to experience a small sample of each cultures food. Within this market there is also a organic and locally grown market separate from the general one. You can find the Sicilian families and South Americans selling in the fish markets, the Asian ethnicities have opened their own grocery stores, North Africans have a small community filled with halal butchers fruit and furniture sellers, and the Romanian population sells their typical bread and cured meats in the market. It was so interesting to see all these populations and their food in such close proximity. For lunch some of us grabbed sesame bread from the Romanian vendors then asked the meat and cheese sellers next door to throw together a panino. I stuck with pizza this time.
Finally we went to a chocolate factory! It was just a small family run one, but it was very interesting they taught us about how to make chocolate and the difference between most European and american chocolates. It is usually that Europe uses more of the original cocoa butter, or in Italy’s case olive oil sometimes, and American companies use cheap partially-hydrogenated oils, palm oils, and other things that are not as good quality. They were so kinda and gave us many samples not to mention a whole bag of free chocolate!
Our class concluded at Eataly, which although they are the face of the Slow Food Movement, I find the store very capitalist for being begun by a communist and I find it very hypocritical. Two key aspects of SFM is local, and good prices for customers, well, their produce even says it is from abroad, and nearly everything in the store is too expensive for many. In fact many of their products, we found at the market or stores we visited during the day for twice as cheap! Eataly is a fun experience and is great for boosting popular knowledge about Slow Food, but I can’t say I am 100% behind it.