Monday, April 1, 2013

April: Our March Meeting

Slow Food Pelham is a small Convivium that has attracted a widely diverse group of food lovers from across the Niagara Region.  We are teachers and civil servants, retailers and marketers, independent business people and artists, retired and employed.  What draws us together is a love of good food and a concern about the increasing pressure to consume bad food… whether from fast food chains, agri-business conglomerates, or manufacturers that push over-processed junk food at us.  But mostly, we just enjoy each other’s company and sharing the food that we make.

Our “meetings” are pretty informal affairs.  We gather at someone’s home, each bringing our contribution to the evening’s main event: a pot-luck tasting menu around a theme.  The food is spread on a table or kept warm in the oven and we gather for a brief meeting before tucking in. 

At our most recent meeting, our food theme was “favorite comfort food,” which was appropriate for a cool evening right at the beginning of March.  We had coq au vin, chili (two varieties), pork hocks, tapenade, pulled pork , tourtiére, date squares, pie, sinfully rich chocolate cupcakes, and much more.  As usual, we shared the cost of a local wine to wash it all down.  One of our members, Dennis, had recently been to the South of France where he discovered a gourmet olive oil producer, and brought back three bottles of this special oil for us to taste.  Each bottle was from a different olive, and the difference between them was remarkable.  We were given the opportunity to take advantage of Dennis’s contact in Nice to order bottles for ourselves.
As for the “meeting” part of the meeting, we discussed events that we’d like to plan for the year.  Our late summer lamb roast at Featherstone Winery is our signature event and has a permanent place on our calendar.  We enjoy special dinners at restaurants throughout the region that are “Slow Food friendly” and discussed where our next such event might take place.  The Good Earth Bistro received unanimous approval, and they have by now been approached for a special dinner for our members and guests scheduled for May 15.

An issue that generated a great deal of concern was the desire by Slow Food that we turn over a portion of any fundraising money to the central office.  They suggested $16 per person in the Convivium as a target.  Pelham Slow Food has never been in the fundraising game; our lamb roast and special dinners cover costs and little more, and that’s the way we like it.  Members’ reactions ranged from annoyance to outrage at this suggestion, as the membership fee for Slow Food is already high.  This discussion will be ongoing.

Having calmed down and eased our blood pressure with a sip of red wine, we returned to more pleasant topics, and feted Renée Girard, our founding president and the force behind our group for five years.  New president, Valerie Grabove acknowledged that she had large shoes to fill. 

And then it was over to the food and the real reason we assemble from time to time… delicious home-cooked meals made with local ingredients where possible, served in the most convivial surroundings with interesting conversation and good cheer.