SLOW FOOD CENTRAL EUROPE: Culture, Heritage, Identity and Food


SlowFood CE logo projekta


“I need to know the history of what I eat, not only the price. I need to know where it comes form, the hands that farmed and produced it … the day food has lost its true value and its history, there will be no hope for the future.”
Carlo Petrini, Slow Food President

The intangible cultural heritage of food is an enormous yet underestimated resource, gastronomy treasures the entire history of a territory and embodies how different cultures have merged over the centuries. It is largely used to promote tourism but hardly ever treated as a resource that can leverage environmental sustainability and social integration. Our objective is to improve the capacities of local actors to valorise the intangible heritage of food in a vision that integrates economic, environmental and social sustainability, increasing as a result their knowledge of the richness of the gastronomic heritage and the skills needed to valorise it creatively. Cities are a perfect laboratory where such a change can be successfully achieved: small enough to strongly influence the entrepreneurial and social scene but also large enough to serve as gateways to international markets. The project is founded on the “new-gastronomy” concept that Slow Food as a movement promotes, A multidisciplinary approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, and people. The project intends to build a transferable model capable to valorise traditional foods with their producers, the breeds and seeds, the traditional processing techniques, the folklore, the cultural landscape, the natural resources nurturing and connecting urban dwellers and rural communities, enhancing the common assets of food heritage in CE and leading to a new alliance among 5 CE heritage cities for the benefit of local administrators, civil society, small business in the food, hospitality and creative sector and citizens at large.
The present administrative territory of the City of Dubrovnik unfortunately does not correspond to the territory that for centuries has been one body. It was formed both culturally and socially, in the course of the creating and development of the Republic of Ragusa. This historical and cultural heritage was mirrored by the administrative system of the Municipality of Dubrovnik in the former Yugoslavia where it covered the historical territory of the Republic stretching from the Bay of Kotor (Montenegro) to the peak of the Peljesac peninsula together with pertaining islands.
By considering such powerful presence of the Republic on this territory (in its larger volume from the XV.c., but continuously developing since the XII.c) it does not come as a surprise that its very rich gastro heritage was well-documented in lavishly produced studies (books), among which, some very important ones were published in the last few years («Dubrovnik Kitchens» by Jadranka Ničetić, «Malvasija – Gods' Wine» and «Malvasija» by Ivo Orešković, «Dubrovnik With a Taste of Past» by Josip Žuvela, «What's Cooking in Dubrovnik» by Ana-Marija Bujić, to mention just a few).

This renewed theoretical interest for gastronomic heritage of Dubrovnik and its countryside surroundings as well as initiatives of some single producers and tradition-lovers unfortunately have not been followed by the same interest neither by producer’s educational and catering circles, or official politics and cultural institutions.
In the shops and restaurants of Dubrovnik few are the products and dishes coming from this tradition and even fewer of the traditional dishes prepared with local ingredients. As a consequence there is no joint actions of all interested groups aiming at a strategic valorising of the rich gastronomic heritage as an exceptionally valuable cultural treasure. In considering Dubrovnik area gastro tradition there is no integrated multidisciplinary Slow Food approach in seeing traditional production as a strong engine of sustainable local development. The approach that would also take into consideration and provide means for preserving local biodiversity, valuate and help preserve local cultural and natural peculiarities (lifestyle, landscape) as well as strenghten the memory and identity of the local community. In other words a holistic approach that considers food in all its semantic layers. Stressing the social, economic and cultural connections with the specific territory.
Dubrovnik is a globally known tourist destination with hundred thousand of people from all over the world visiting it every year. The pressing of mass tourism has considerably changed the social tissue of the town and its country while the tourist industry has made the local offer completely uniformed, pushing out almost completely the local traditional products.
Even when there are efforts to brand the local traditional products on the market they are conceived solely as a product meant for tourists. The reason behind this uncanny situation with local, traditional products is in the lack of effort to work on strengthening local producers' communities or agriculture and cattle breeding, as well as, on seems perpetual lack of developing communities’ feeling of identity and belonging to a long and rich tradition.
In the context of the above-said the NGO Kinookus together with the Dubrovnik Development Agency DURA through this pilot action will attempt to make a base for a long-term strategic valorisation of Dubrovnik gastro heritage aiming at its revival in the light of contemporary dynamics and actual requirements of everyday life. We strongly believe that with a joint action of municipal authorities, local and regional institutions and citizens, NGOs, cultural and educational institutions, producers and citizens gastro heritage not only can find its place on the tables, shop-windows and kitchens but also make its way back into the consciousness and speech of the local community.

Kinookus and DURA together will develop work on this activity both in Dubrovnik and Ston that once was a second town of the Republic of Ragusa, built on the model of Dubrovnik. Kinookus in Ston has for seven years been successfully organizing a food film festival as a multidisciplinary platform for promoting and preserving local tradition and cultural and natural heritage of the region of Ston. The Festival has been inspired and led by the Slow Food philosophy; the local community is included in the greatest possible measure, in its organization and realization. DURA – Dubrovnik Development Agency, owing to its experience with previous projects and the fact that Dubrovnik is a candidate for the European Capital of Culture 2020 will through this pilot action target the positive energy of culture industry as well as that of the local government to the realization of its scopes.
With this pilot action we want to attract the attention on the unique gastro heritage of the whole territory of ex Republic of Ragusa as well as to the historic link between the two towns reflected in this heritage. Both in Dubrovnik and in Ston there are works in progress dealing with the restoration of the valuable monumental heritage, which after being restored should be given appropriate purpose i.e. adequate contents. In Dubrovnik the historic complex of Lazareti was completely restored and the fort Kaštio in Ston is now being renovated. This fort is a part of the fortification system dating from the XIV century. Our wish is to give to these restored spaces a new (old) life that would reflect the rich history and lifestyle of this area. By activities that will take place in and around these spaces we wish to attract the attention on the strong bound between tangible and intangible heritage. The people who projected and constructed these edifices and have preserved it to the present fed themselves using local resources and thus developing a gastro tradition that is deeply rooted in its local climate. The monumental heritage that follows the morphology of the terrain, like the marvellous city walls of Ston and Dubrovnik express a life philosophy that respects the special feature of the country. This is what we want to promote through given pilot action and the whole project would be adapted to the context.
In the pilot action we are going to use the combination of three Slow Food instruments: Granaries of Memory, Chef's Alliance and Food and Taste education. In order to have the broadest possible field of activity as well as a multidisciplinary approach we want to include: Dubrovnik School of Tourism and Catering, The Society of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiques. Dubrovnik Museums (Museum of Natural Sciences), The Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the restaurants Pantarul and Orsan, authors of the studies, producers, etc.


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