/MAD Food Camp Countdown

MAD Food Camp Countdown

You may have noticed that some of the posts here on Parla Food have been of the doom and gloom persuasion of late. I don’t know what else to say, aside from the fact that I see the food culture of the place that I live changing for the worse. Palates are being forcibly homogenized as farm raised fish, industrially produced breads, and factory farmed meats infiltrate the so-called pastoral Roman culinary landscape. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

In many ways, chefs in the US, UK, and the Nordic countries are way ahead of those in Rome (and Italy in general) in terms of sustainable sourcing and dedication to seasonal cooking, which is the exact opposite perception that most people have. Roman consumers, in spite of their reputation as discerning diners, prize price over quality (a miniscule group of gastrofighetti–food snobs–excluded), and flock to supermarkets in droves, leaving many local markets to the 70 and over set.

Now most of what you read about food in Rome, especially in magazines, speaks about how quaint and perfect every neighborhood trattoria is (this is utter BS) and how Campo de’ Fiori is the lifeblood of the food community (WTF?!). Out of touch hardly covers it. Enough of this rubbish. Can we please talk about where all the bakers have gone? Where are all the food artisans? Is it possible that in a city of over 3 million people, so few are engaged in making and cultivating our food? Which chefs are actually sourcing responsibly? I think these questions need serious consideration. But where does one start?

A few months ago, while pondring these issues in a semi-depressive state, I came across an article about the first MAD FoodCamp, a two-day Symposium founded by Rene Redzepi and the Noma team. I booked a room and flight immediately. In his piece for the Observer this weekend Redzepi wrote, “Farmers, scholars, foragers and chefs will talk about where we are and educate each other about where we can go… New knowledge not only makes us more responsible, it can also make us more creative, more socially engaged, with a fresh understanding and the tools to consider the cultural, historical, social and scientific context of the food all of us cook and serve every day.”

In ten days I will depart for Copenhagen to attend MAD Food Camp, where I hope to learn more about how food professionals confront obstacles to local food culture, how they promote sustainable practices, and how I might put these ideas to work in Rome. I’m no chef, but at times the pen is mightier than the knife.

2017-02-17T15:26:18+00:00 August 18th, 2011|Categories: Copenhagen, Culture, Gastronomic Traditions, Travel|11 Comments


  1. Emiko August 18, 2011 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    This sounds amazing, I wish I could go too! Looking forward to hearing about it when you get back!

  2. Mick P August 19, 2011 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Nice one Katie. Keep it up, don’t lose hope or the fight. Interesting comments about Italian chefs and the food culture in general. As you say, this might well be the land of Slow Food, but it’s also the land of blind complacency with a dangerous number of people believing what has become a myth, that Italian food is still the greatest in the world and that the Italians can be taught nothing by anyone. All the time, they’re losing what they once had and don’t even see it happening. Looking forward to the report from MAD.

  3. Kenny August 19, 2011 at 11:32 am - Reply

    Really looking forward to your future posts covering Mad Food Camp. Hopefully you will be one of many representing Rome and returning empowered with fresh ideas for making some long overdue changes to Rome’s rapidly devolving food culture/industry.

    I wish I could be there as well…..take good notes 🙂

  4. Timi Siytangco August 20, 2011 at 4:41 am - Reply

    Katie, thanks for talking about this. I look forward to the updates from Copenhagen!

  5. Irene August 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Brava Katie! I hope to learn something from Redzepi through your updates!

  6. […] partirò per Copenaghen per partecipare al MAD FoodCamp dove spero di imparare qualcosa di più su come i professionisti del cibo affrontano gli ostacoli […]

  7. Rossella August 25, 2011 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I agree with you. The starting issue is that it’s not so symple to choose the right food. Education is important as well as goodwill at different levels (chefs, families, politics etc.).
    Gastrofighetti and similar risk to transform good and healthy foods in an expensive commodity. Or to confuse price with quality. It’s such a complex issue food despite it’s a basic necessity.
    I’ll wait your news from Copenhagen!

  8. Pascal & Lison August 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Yikes. Hear what you’re saying. Pascal is a classically trained French Pastry Chef from France and we are crazy enough to open a take & bake pastry business in the middle of the Western Canadian prairies where there is zero pastry culture & crazy variable weather conditions. Very challenging to make consistently good product for a general population who are just discovering good food. The only consolation I can give you is that there are little pockets of people all around the world that answer their calling of trying to share the simple pleasure of good food with others. What else can we do? 🙂

  9. Katie August 29, 2011 at 11:15 am - Reply

    @Emiko had a wonderful, eyeopening time. will report soon!

    @MickP any thoughts on how we might reverse the process?

    @Kenny there were just a few of us from Rome

    @Rossella you completely hit the nail on the head, “Education is important as well as goodwill at different levels (chefs, families, politics etc.)”

    @Pascal & Lison in the words of Rene Redzepi during the closing statement of the Symposium, “Anything is possible and even if it isn’t we still have to try.”

  10. Kenny August 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie- I was trying to keep up with your flurry of tweets during the event. At least two people from Rome were there and we can rally around you guys. Looking forward to hearing more about what you’ve taken back to Rome with you.

  11. Paris Food tours March 20, 2015 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Nice,we are looking forward to your further posts

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