Surfing The Slow Life

Sandra Tinari is an Australian photojournalist who’s been traveling the world surfing and writing about cultures she finds. You can learn more about her in this past interview or check out her website.

Eating fresh, locally produced food is an age-old philosophy that’s regaining popularity as many of us opt out of the fast lane and think more about sustainability and where our food comes from.

This shift is reflected in the widespread growth of the Slow movement’s Slow Food concept, which much like our surf community supports celebrating the simple moments of life. Specifically, Slow Food is a reaction against fast food in preference to enjoying the social pleasure of preparing and eating fresh, locally produced recipes. It advocates a return to traditional ways in order to protect global gastronomic and ecological biodiversity, while championing sustainable production, short- supply chains and independent producers, which supports local economies.

The ‘Slow Food’ movement came about as a reaction to globalisation and our hectic modern lifestyles. The seeds were born in 1989 in Rome with a high-profile protest against a proposal to open a McDonald’s near the ancient city’s Spanish Steps. Intensely patriotic, the protesters, led by Carlo Petrini, feared that the arrival of such a modern, global player was at odds with Rome’s historical and cultural values. They worried that ‘fast-food’ would erode the City’s and Italy’s food heritage.

Having lived in Tuscany, I have experienced how patriotic Italians are about their fantastic food and culture. But also, as an Australian, I am just as intensely passionate about the ‘lucky country’ and its own food heritage.

My first food memories are from visit to the family farm, where my Aunt, who was a member of the Country Women’s Association, was always up to her elbows in flour, baking for the hungry hoards. This is where I first learnt to create Australian institutions such as damper and lamingtons, and I discovered how good freshly prepared food could taste. Later, living by the sand dunes in Perth post-surf cook-ups using the catch-of-the-day were a regular event. At the same time, I discovered how good homegrown herbs tasted in our social feasts and how easy it was to grow aloe vera to naturally soothe the sunburn gained from long days riding the waves out front.

Now, as a traveller I am equally as passionate about championing, protecting and sharing the food heritage of the places that I visit. Early childhood trips to Hong Kong and Japan first opened my eyes to a whole new world of eating and ever since, a passion for surfing has led my friends and I to a myriad of coastal communities and their bustling capital cities across the globe.

Along the way, we discovered that every local community had a mouth-watering banquet of indigenous foods to explore. Every village held an intense passion for their local food and wine (or rum in Barbados!) and we learnt that this devotion formed a vital part of people’s broader cultural identity. I learnt to not only to cook and enjoy their global recipes but began to understand that food really does forge bonds within a community and drives local economies.

At the same time, I began to understand that slow food miles from terra firma to plate protected biodiversity, enabled organic cultivation and ensured the consumption of food at its freshest. Crucially, it was in the preparation and enjoyment of long, slow meals with family and friends that we all saw how communities shared good times and passed on stories and traditions across generations.

Inadvertently we had discovered a taste of the slow life and slow food, and it tasted and felt right. Petrini was on to something; as the world continues to open-up, and as surfers travel further afield, celebrating food heritage is one way that we can help to keep local traditions alive, and the world’s communities economically and culturally strong.