This post is a little different from my regular ones. It’s not about cooking and doesn’t have a recipe, but it IS still about food! So, bear with me. I want to tell you all about it as it’s such an important event in the food world. The Salone del Gusto (“Tasting Fair”in English: sounds much better in Italian!) only happens once every two years in Turin, and this year I had the happy fortune to be able to go to it for an afternoon. Sorry about the photo quality: I only had my phone and didn’t think about taking a camera. I wanted to show you what it was like anyway, so just go with the out-of-focus flow and pretend you’ve had three glasses of wine before reading this post!When you first enter, it’s almost too much for your senses to take in: there are aisles and aisles of stands in three huge hanger-like buildings. These stands are separated into the different regions of Italy, and there is a whole pavilion for “international food”. I was a little disappointed to see that neither New Zealand or Australia were there as I was hoping to sink my teeth into a mince pie for old times sake, but not to worry; there was plenty of other food and drink to sample! For the first half hour or so I walked around aimlessly, flitting from stand to stand like a butterfly, and not being able to settle on anything. I finally got so hungry, I ate a Piadina with gorgonzola, radicchio and walnuts from the Emilia-Romagna section (which was delicious!), and had a coffee. That settled me down enough to get down to the serious business of tasting. I made a bee-line for the section that represented the Southern part of Italy, stuffing my bag with Sardinian peperoncini, Sicilian oven-baked ricotta, wild fennel and oregano (if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I LOVE Sicily!), and olive oils from Puglia. Luckily, I only took a small bag, so I actually HAD to stop shopping after a while!I found it really interesting that there were many, MANY stands showing off artisan beers. It seems to be the up and coming thing to drink rather than wine. I would’ve taken some of those with me too, but they really were way too heavy…..I cooled my heels a little while slurping on a coffee granita from Sicily (that was also amazingly good!), then headed over to the Northern part of Italy. I consoled my lack of “bag room” to buy anything else with the fact that I am in Turin at the moment, so I can actually get many of the foods I saw in the city while I’m here. I did still manage to stuff a few jars of sugar-free jam from Verona in my bag after trying about 10 of them. They come from a company called Stringhetto, and they have a website you can buy their jams from. They’re really delicious and they have very interesting flavours aside from the regular ones, like pineapple and lime, and pear and walnut, plus they have all sorts of dangerously good chocolate spreads. I didn’t buy any of those as there was a serious likelihood that I would eat the whole jar in one sitting.I was running out of steam by the time I got to the Enoteca part. I was very tempted but decided that I would NEVER get home again if I sat down with a few glasses of wine. Even without them, when I got out of the fair, I took the bus in the wrong direction and ended up spending an extra hour seeing most of Turin before I got back to the apartment of my parents-in-law! I’ll leave that one for next time.
I only scraped the tip of the iceberg: over the four days it’s on, there are countless presentations by famous (and not so famous) chefs, cooking classes, tasting events for different foods and drinks, restaurants inside the fair serving up all sorts of interesting foods, and even events for children. You could spend days there (well, I could!). So, if you’re ever in or near Turin on an even-numbered year around the end of October, take some time out to immerse yourself in the Salone del Gusto (wear some comfortable shoes)!
By Lisa Watson