I asked Hank to send a dispatch from the Slow Food Salone del Gusto, held every other year in Torino. Tierra Madre sounds wonderful; someday I hope to be in Italy at the right time. This last trip to Italy I was a few days away from being able to stay, after all it’s O-N-D time in the U-S-A. And I really have to craft a post to respond to all the emails I have been getting from winemakers, Tuscan and otherwise, who still think the American market is just standing there waiting with open arms for their wine. It’s in the works, and it will be a doozy, I promise you.
But in the meantime let’s hear from Hank:
While perusing the Salon del Gusto map of international vendors, I noticed that there was a booth selling Afghan saffron and wanted to visit. Imagine my surprise to find it not manned by Afghanis but two female soldiers of the Taurinense Alpina Brigade. They were selling the saffron to raise money for Afghanis to develop saffron as a cash crop to replace opium. Not Italians for good food but for good deeds.
A few days before we went to Torino to attend Salon del Gusto, we were watching the news and saw the nationally televised funeral of four members of Italy's Alpini killed in Afghanistan. The Alpini are Italy's elite mountain regiment. They have fought in every war Italy has been involved in since their founding in 1872. They are the oldest active mountain infantry in the world. The Alpini are permanently engaged in Afghanistan, as is our 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, NY. The Italians stopped, united as a country, to mourn the four slain Alpini. Let's raise a glass of Italian wine to the slain Alpini and their efforts to make a difference in Afghanistan, and remember their service and motto, " Di qui non si passa" They may not pass.
Grazie, Hank! Keep ‘em coming. And don’t forget to bring me some of that hot sauce from the Marche.
Enrico “Hank” Rossi on patrol in the Khyber Pass in 2007