My friend Cristina once asked me why I was involved with Slow Food Urban San Diego . And, as a board member, I darn well better be able to answer the question. So...why am I involved? Ah, let me count the ways :-)
1) I prefer to eat food that hasn't traveled thousands of miles, and half way around the world, to get to me. My local growing area provides great products and big agri-business will survive just fine without me
2) I think preserving heritage and traditional seeds, breeds and food, as well as food and cultural traditions about food are important. Heritage and tradition help define cultural identity and often provide a personal one.
3) I find artisanal products tasty, intriguing and I am always impressed by the creativity displayed by the chefs and home cooks who choose to work with local, sustainable and/or artisanal products.
Why Slow Food Urban San Diego? In a word...diversity. SFUSD participates in and sponsors a variety of projects that cross many communities and economic strata. From porchetta dinners with Italian butchers and sustainable seafood week, to gardens designed to teach young mothers how to grow and prepare good food for their kids, and a partnership with San Diego City Schools to bring farmers and fresh food to the classroom, to the classes in home brewing, cheese making or understanding coffee, SFUSD connects San Diegans to the incredible food opportunities and communities in our local urban area.
Now I'm not going to get all high falutin' and philosophical and go on about how wonderful Slow Food is. Like any organization it's got it's pros and cons. What I am going to do is tell you about a small Slow Food organization promoting good, clean and fair food, one product and one person at a time.
Slow Food Mexico has been around for a while in the central part of the country, but I was truly surprised to discover that Slow Food represented in Merída by Slow Food Yucatán and that they sponsor a weekly market every Saturday
So with 3 friends in tow, and armed only with an address and a taxi driver who assured us he knew where we were going, we set off in search of the Mercado Fresco de Slow Food Yucatán.
The market isn't big but it does have a good breadth of products and interesting items, like the fresh eggs - chicken or quail - local honey, locally grown cashews and even earth that comes complete with earthworms. Then there were these guys and their lettuces.
Making use of old water bottles the lettuce starts are grown on the roof of their home. I'd eat that, wouldn't you? Recycle old water bottle and feed the community, love the idea, the concept and the execution.
Good Asian food is not always the easiest thing to find in Mexico, but if you've got a hankering for kim chee or some other Korean specialties, you'll find it at this table (see below)...
Okay, Korean not your thing? How about freshly grown herbs, greens or some handmade cheese
Merída has a large and fairly active ex-pat community. The English Library recently sponsored a chili cook off and the winning chili is available at the Slow Food market. Also on display was the medal the winner received. Look closely, it certainly appears that the English Library could use a refresher course in English.
Slow Food Yucatan was launched by David Sterling, owner of Los Dos Cooking School . The market is held at a bakery that is owned an operated by SFY board member Monique Duval who is, without doubt, a force of nature...baker, fee spirit, visionary and probably a lot more. She is a whirlwind of activity and so is the bakery
While I didn't get great photos inside the bakery, and her selection had been whittled down by the time we got there it was clear to see it's a delicious labor of love and dedication
Calzones, wraps, pizzas, pastries and lovely loaves of bread made with whole grain and natural ingredients were flying out the door and customers were lined up 2 and 3 deep waiting their turn. Also offered are grains that have been freshly ground to flour.
Some fresh juice, great grains, granola and something called Huevos Brie (Brie Eggs..don't ask, I don't know and I forgot to ask) wait to go home with some lucky cook.
The Slow Food Yucatán mercado brilliantly that size doesn't matter. From the guys selling lettuce in recycled water bottles to the guy at the other end of the market selling coconut pies made from coconuts grown in his backyard, everything came from within a 30 mile radius of Merída. Wide ranging products, creative ones and a sense of place and community, the mercado had it all. We bought some coffee and we bought some chocolate, and then it was time to say adios and head back to the hotel.
This map will help you get to the Slow Food mercado, it's not exactly on the well trod Merída tourist routes. You'll know you've arrived when you see the sentinel standing guard...an old red mixer on the roof. Yeah, I forgot to mention, Monique has a sense of humor too.
Slow Food Yucatan Mercado
Calle 31 No. 70 por Calle 12
Colonia Chuburná de Hidaldo
(Your taxi driver will understand the address even if you don't)