Il senso della lumaca e altre storie - Persone, Paesaggi, Prodotti (The meaning behind the snail and other stories – People, landscapes and products)

Building on a Slow Food Veneto project, Slow Food editors published an enjoyable book that narrates, with the passion that characterizes the members of our association, the stories and lives of Venetian farmers and producers. The publication is based on an idea by Gino Bortoletto, a long-standing member of Slow Food. Since the 1990s, Bortoletto has been following and supporting the ‘snail’, first as a trustee of the Treviso chapter of the association, then as the chairman of Slow Food Veneto and again as the chairman of Slow Food Promotion. This collaboration, spanning almost 30 years, has allowed him to show his skills as an original interpreter of Slow Food’s values. The texts are by Lucio Carraro, an elementary school teacher and a respected writer, while the snail illustrations are by Matteo Scorsini.


There is so much passion, energy and life in the pages of Il senso della lumaca e altre storie (The meaning behind the snail and other stories). It is a unique tale told through the mouth of several different people, who have shared particulars of the Veneto region and its so many inextricably linked realities. Truly, these are stories that speak to us of the interactions amongst people, landscapes and products, whose destinies are closely intertwined and have built that complex character that is known as Veneto’s regional identity.

I sincerely believe that the dialectics that develops between the constituent parts of a region is one of the most interesting aspects of the diverse and varied world of gastronomy. At the end of the day, it’s when people meet their land that the landscape takes form. The interaction between people and landscape yields produce, which in turn help define a person’s identity, specific to a certain region. And it is between the soil, the people, the landscape and the products that the gastronomy takes shape, just like the twenty-six stories that the reader will find in these pages.

We must increasingly commit ourselves to defend these peoples, these places and these very own stories. The book gives us a real glimpse into Mother Nature, where the poetry of the actions meets the necessity of production. Where the many small components create a bigger and more complete picture, in which everyone finds his or her own place. Like a mirror in which we can look into to understand, once and for all, the importance that farmers and herders who walk our mountains have. The same goes for fishermen and women, who know how to listen to the sea; for craftspeople and business owners, who decide how to transform precious raw products; for farmers, who choose not to sacrifice a native variety for the sake of a new hyper-productive hybrid; for the chefs, who keep their hands busy and their feet firmly planted on the ground.

This year, Slow Food turns thirty. The path that we have been blazing is becoming more significant and, ever since the beginning of this adventure, we have tried to break down the complexity of the systems that we are faced with, so to finally get to the words “Good, clean & fair”, when referring to the food system that we would like to have. I think that what is simply and efficiently described in these pages is the exact image of this theoretical paradigm, which aims to emphasize that we can derive no pleasure from our lands and from the people who live on them if we don’t respect them all.

Along this road, we have learned how these very stories are the lifeblood of our work, the salt of our commitment. These stories are both the means and the end, generating and raising awareness in all of us on the urgency of getting involved, both as disseminators and as co-producing citizens.

The extraordinary feature about this reading lies in the absolutely rare power that is quietly placed on the hands of the reader: that is the power of writing the next chapter. The chance to open one’s eyes to unknown, or barely known, realities, so to gain the right perspective and to change the story as one believes is right. After reading this book, each and every one of us will keep it in mind, as we make our daily food choices while respecting Mother Earth.


Carlo Petrini



Chapter 12

Vanilla from Madagascar

Dario and Sonia care for this product as if it were their own child. From conception to birth. they take care of its constituent ingredients, they accompany it in the evolutionary stages of its life and they proudly dress it up to celebrate it.


Title: Il senso della lumaca e altre storie (The meaning behind the snail and other stories)
Subtitle: Persone, paesaggi, prodotti (People, landscapes and products)
Illustrated by Matteo Scorsini
Edited by Gino Bortoletto
Published by Slow Food
Year 2016, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-88-8499-463-9


This book is available at the Loison Library.

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