Are you a foodie? Do you know where your food comes from?
I went on a trip to Carinthia to learn more about slow food and how to incorporate a healthy relationship with food into my busy daily routine (that usually doesn’t leave a lot of time for hours and hours of cooking). Now this has been my second trip to Carinthia in just three months and I’ve been raving about the scenery and the simplicity of it all here, so will do my best to not get too carried away with the beautiful mountains and lakes at this point.
While you may have heard about the concept of slow food itself, Carinthia has been named the first slow food travel region worldwide, meaning there’s a bunch of little farms, restaurants, mills and so on who will literally take you back to the roots and sharpen your little taste buds. Each stop on the way gives you the chance to not only peek over the producers’ shoulders but also bake that bread yourself, experiment with vinegar and oil or learn more about how cheese is made.
I use honey for all kinds of things, not just with cereals or bread. It has a hugely healthy effect on irritated skin and helped speed up the healing process when I had a bike accident this summer. Somehow, unsurprisingly enough, I’ve never given much thought to how the honey is being produced because I’m not too fond of bees. Who is?! Well, this man here. Working as a nurse, Herbert Zwischenbrugger tries to spend as much time with his favourite creatures (bees). He has 90 bee colonies, has been stung a couple of times but doesn’t really seem to mind. A “bee year” from April to August and each colony gives out 25 kilos of honey. He said: “I’ll still do this even if I sit in a wheelchair one day!” Talk about passion. Oh, and the day after we visited him, he was going on a pilgrimage.
Herbs & spices
“My pruner is more important to me than lipstick!”, Mrs. Daberer, the owner of the organic hotel Daberer told us while cutting herbs and spices for our lunch. “Today I still couldn’t find it,” she laughs, looking over her huge garden and into the Lesachtal valley.
The real Daberer gem though (well, apart from promoting a fully sustainable lifestyle, locally sourced food only and a spa area that will wind you down like nothing else) is hidden away in the nearby forest: a pond surrounded by thick trees and a mineral spring. It is ice cold (yours truly jumped in for research purposes!) but will literally make you understand this world a little better. Not kidding. Anyway, the Daberer family repurposed their hotel into an organic one in 1978 but everyone I spoke to said this transition came about completely naturally – long before slow before became cool.
Carinthia is particularly famous for its noodles. They can be stuffed with anything from butter over herbs to beetroot. The hotel and restaurant “Sonnleitner” is another family business. Stefanie Sonnleitner is an expert on all things slow food and experimenting with adding vegan cuisine to the mix. She taught us how to roll Carinthian noodles – apparently, all the (single) local ladies are only allowed to get married once they know how to make them. Mine didn’t quite turn out as picture-perfect as Stefanie’s but who cares about weddings anyway! (Also, check out that paradise of a hotel room I stayed at.)
Butter & cheese
Next thing. Guess what my favourite dinner of all time is: Rye bread with salty butter, cream cheese, tomatoes and onions on top. So German! Did you know that butter and cheese are only a 30-minute stir away from each other? On the next stop of our little slow food tour, we learned how butter is made and how to tell whether its quality is “good” or “bad”. As a general rule: the more yellow, the fresher it is. If you keep processing the butter, you’ll soon get soft cheese, the results of which you see below. Yum.
One of my favourite encounters has been meeting Brigitte Lugger and her flour mills (Lesachtaler Mühlen) in the small town of Maria Luggau. Brigitte and her husband Leopold know everyone who lives there and just have that laid-back air of just being content with what they have. 50 years ago, the mills were destroyed during severe weather and the Luggers helped rebuild them. Their flour is turned into bread and then sold to locals. Yum.
So, here’s what I’ve learned: It’s not always easy to take the time for cooking but at the end of the day, it’s a question of priorities. And conscious eating is not only healthier for your own body, it also helps the environment with all the different elements, people and animals who are involved in filling your stomach. All too often, fast food fills you faster but leaves you with a stuffed and bloated feeling, well knowing that an overdose of sugar and salt may not have been what your body needs. Why not rethink some of your routines?
Last but not least, here are three super obvious, super easy and super effective ways of making a difference to this little green planet. They’re absolute no-brainers and you’ve probably heard this before, but incorporating these rules into your daily routine will be a little more effort, but very worthwhile.
What you can do
- Buy local (many farms offer boxes that you can order and get delivered)
- Buy plastic-free (yes, there are “no waste” supermarkets in bigger cities!)
- Eat less and spend more on good quality food
What are your experiences with slow food and organic food below? Let us know below!Tweet