It was through PEMAK farm that I first learned about the Slow Food movement in Slovakia. I was documenting poppyseed farming for the autumnal book of A Taste of Slovakia when I came across this family-run business in Patince, a small village situated in the southernmost corner of Slovakia, just across the border with Hungary.
Mrs Pém from the PEMAK company suggested we meet at a food fair in Pezinok organized by Slow Food Pressburg – a branch of the Slow Food movement in Slovakia that operates around the capital city of Bratislava.
The Slow Food movement started in Italy shortly after the opening of the first McDonald’s restaurant in Rome thirty years ago. Against the economic interests of big fast food chains, the Slow Food set the quality, and against the stale uniformity of mass production, they promoted the unique character of local produce. Not surprisingly, this counter-movement quickly found its supporters all around the world.Slow Food Pressburg derive their name from the old German name Bratislava was known by until 1919. Back at the time of Habsburg rule, Pressburg was a mixture of cultures and cuisines, which left behind a pleasing variety of dishes and cooking styles.
Slow Food Pressburg is the most active Slow Food community in Slovakia. They are behind many workshops, food fairs and educational events in the Bratislava area. One of the venues they use for their activities is the historical Schaubmarov mlyn (Schaubmar’s Mill) in Pezinok.
At the regular food fairs in September (Autumn Fair), December (Christmas Fair), April (Spring Fair) and June (Summer Fair), Slow Food Pressburg brings together small farmers, local food producers and consumers interested in regional specialities made from clean, chemical-free food staples native to the area.
Preserving indigenous plant cultivars and animal species is what lies at the heart of the global Slow Food movement, as does protecting tradition and regional gastronomy. Petra Molnárová, the spokesperson of Slow Food Pressburg sums up their philosophy in a few points:
Go seasonal, buy local produce, know your farmer, talk to them about their farming methods, and ask what they do to protect biodiversity and the environment.