14 January 2010

The Pleasures of Slow Food

In his introduction to Corby Kummer’s The Pleasures of Slow Food, Eric Schlosser lays out the premise for the Slow Food Movement. It stands, he tells us:
“…in direct opposition to everything that a fast-food meal represents: blandness, uniformity, conformity, the blind worship of science and technology.”
The Slow Food Movement began in 1980 with a band of activist who wanted to celebrate the country foods that were in danger of being lost as artisans gravitated to industrial jobs. The spokesman was a fun loving Italian named Carlo Petrini. Passionate about saving foods that were quickly becoming undervalued or extinct and equally passionate about the globalization of fast foods, Petrini became a food warrior.

Today Slow Food counts seventy thousand members in more than forty-five countries. Kummer’s book highlights the movement for Slow Food, the artisans who make the food and the cooks who incorporate the passion of Slow Food into their cooking.

This recipe comes from renowned pastry chef Elizabeth Prueitt featuring the herbs and locally produced milks and cheeses in the San Francisco area.


1 1/4 cups nonfat milk
2/3 (1 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup bread flour
5 eggs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as thyme or chives
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. butter a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the milk, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat until the batter has melted and the mixture comes to a boil. Add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon. Stir vigorously until the mixture is a smooth mass and pulls away from the sides of the pan, about three minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating vigorously until each is completely incorporated before adding the next. Fold in the black pepper, herbs, and three-fourths of the cheese.

Scoop out tablespoonfuls of the batter and place them 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and cream together. Brush the egg mixture over each gougère and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Carlo Petrini’s manifesto for Slow Food was finally translated into English and published by Columbia University. Slow Food: The Case For Taste is a must read for anyone interested in the local production and sourcing of food.

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