Imagine a casino where you won every time. Where each spin of a giant roulette wheel netted you an unknown fortune? This was the promise of the Slow Food UK’s Forgotten Foods Wheel, presented to food lovers at Taste of London festival in Regents Park.
Taste of London is an annual event promoting fine dining in London, where guests get to sample dishes crafted by the capital’s finest chefs. This was the final event of this year’s Slow Food UK Week, which featured occasions such as Eating the Italian Way, a food art performance from the year 2062, a ground-breaking Canape Crawl, and the creation of a new ice cream flavour (Cob nut) made by Gelupo Gelato.
The Slow Food UK team, volunteers, producers, members of our Chef Alliance, and emergency oyster shuckers (thanks Jeremy and Kevin!) helped to set up and run the Slow Food stand in the Secret Garden section of the event. Saturday was a beautifully sunny day, but there were a few showers on Sunday so we were glad to be in a covered area.
The Forgotten Foods Wheel is a nine foot wheel in Slow Food colours of green and orange, with nine sections featuring British foods that are largely unknown to the general public, samples of which were placed in inset trays in each section. As it spun slowly, it seemed like the Slow Food snail’s shell coming to life. All manner of high-rollers came to try their luck at the wheel.
A dotcom millionaire landed on Dove’s Farm’s Einkorn Flour, an ancient grain made into dense, nutty bread – like rye but lighter – by St Johns Bakery. He said, “That’s delicious! Why have I heard of cous cous from Morocco, and quinoa from Peru, but not Einkorn from Britain?”
A Hackney paramedic tasted Three Little Pigs chorizo, made from big, black, hairy Rare Breed Berkshire pigs, and loved this subtly spiced Yorkshire twist on a traditional Spanish sausage.
A teacher from Dulwich won Jersey Black Butter, a fruit based condiment, made with mulling spices, that she said tasted like “Christmas in a jar.”
A chef from Notting Hill was thrilled with his Formby Asparagus, which was “longer and thicker than the Mexican stuff, with a firm texture and grassy fresh taste.” Because it’s local, its hadn’t lost its essential nutrients and flavour.
Others punters won Montgomery Somerset artisan cheddar, Double curd Lancashire’s Cheese, Colchester native oysters, and Lyth Valley damson jam. The message to the 30,000 attendees of Taste London was that these native foods lie forgotten and need your support. If we don’t eat them we’ll eventually lose them.
The luckiest players were delighted to sip delicious and fruity white wines like Friulano made by La Ginestra and by Masùt da Rive and Malvasia made by Blason Vini, which were offered by Consorzio dei Consorzi della Doc del Friuli Venezia Giulia, a union of small wine producers that represents and promotes around the world some of the best wineries from the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia a beautiful northeastern region of Italy.
In casino roulette, there are a few winners and many losers; the house always wins. At the Forgotten Foods Wheel, however everyone is a winner; we all break the bank!
Long live our traditional foods and their dedicated producers. Who’s next to spin?