I have been out of communication because I have been in the middle of the most remarkable several days of my life. An unbelievable convocation of people who care about the soil and the earth and even the dirt in many and various ways.
The opening ceremony was like opening day at the Olympics, with country after country promenading in their native Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes. Next time, we plan to wear Stetsons and levis, just to be symbolically copacetic.
Some quick facts on the Terra Madre will let you know how yeasty the intellectual mix is here -- and to extrapolate how remarkable the conversations are:
6,325 delegates from 153 countries.
1,652 food communities
Delegates include 4,073 farmers, breeders, fishers and artisan producers.
797 cooks (the first year chefs were invited -- to connect them more solidly with producers);
299 academics and research institute representatives;
and last, but not least,
213 musicians, of whom we are 5 -- and yes, the only ones from the U.S.A.
The Salon del Gusto is enormous -- like the largest farmeràs market you have ever seen -- and as loud and crowded as a football game. It is a little overwhelming and I hardly know where to look. I have been told there is a section devoted to herbs, but I have not seen it yet.
The community that has hosted us, Vinovo, is another story all in itself. But briefly, we were put in the community center, which used to be a monastery, in two rooms, with five cots. The heat has come and gone intermittenty, but what has been solid and uninterrupted is the hospitality we have been shown. In exchange,we have given them lots and lots of songs, for which they keep bringing us food and as much red wine as I have had in my life. They serve a local specialty, a sparkling red wine, with every meal except breakfast, and will not let us have an empty glass. I am not complaining, mind you. Just reporting. At any rate, we all want to adopt each other, so our evenings there have turned into loud, wonderful gatherings. I'll have more photos as soon as I figure out how to use this cool camera my daughter gave me.
Meanwhile, I will send more images from the conference. I will write more tomorrow, but for now, we have another performance. At our last performance, the big red tent was full, but I looked out at the crowd gathered around outside the tent and saw some of the African women dancing to "Jitterbug Boogie."
Heaven. Absolute heaven