One of the things I have always liked in Montenegro is the good and healthy food. Once a week I go to the local market, where I buy fruit and vegetables, domestic olive oil, cheese, honey, home-made juice, fresh eggs, herbal tea, etc. … but of course, I am also very proud of the ‘organic’ vegetables from my own garden in Rogami! And on my camper trips through Western Europe I really try to avoid buying industrial food with artificial additives, although it is much less expensive than biological food.
In other words: I prefer ‘Slow Food’. What does this expression exactly mean? Well, it is a philosophy that envisions a world in which all people can have access to food that is good, clean and fair. Food should be fresh and tasty, it should be part of the local cuisine and its production should not harm the environment.
It is thus quite understandable that the international slow food movement is becoming more and more popular. This also applies to the Balkans, including Montenegro. Two years ago, a group of enthusiastic people, representatives of RAMS Travel Agency from Bijelo Polje and the Regional Development Organization Bjelasica, Komovi & Prokletije formed the community ‘Slow Food Bjelasica Komovi & Prokletije‘. Nowadays, the chapter includes more than 30 members, among which producers of wine and grape brandy (‘rakija’), cheese, fruit juice, jams, honey and domestic craft, while other participants are collectors of medicinal herbs, agricultural producers, farm households, etc.
The members are supported in several areas, e.g. by organizing participation in regional and local fairs. The invitation of Slow Food International to participate in the annual Terra Madre Days in Brussels from May 21-23, 2018, was thus a great possibility for the slow food producers from North Montenegro to present their authentic food, recipes, biodiversity, and also unusual grains, fruit and vegetables, which are nowadays hardly used in Western Europe due to the use of industrial sorts. An example? Pumpkins, chard, buckwheat flour, corn flour, nettles, mushrooms from the forest….
The participation of Slow Food Bjelasica Komovi & Prokletije on the Terra Madre Days in Brussels turned out to be a big success. Two Montenegrin events were organized: a degustation of different types of cheese and honey in the canteen of the European Parliament and a dinner in a restaurant in Brussels with presentation of 8 different dishes, typical for the region of North Montenegro.
The representatives of Slow Food Bjelasica Komovi & Prokletije had the opportunity to speak with representatives of the Balkans in the European Parliament and to explain the problems of Montenegrin producers relating to the production, registration and sales of their products. And that was also the goal of this event: promoting local food, tourism and agriculture in the northern part of Montenegro. I am sure that this goal has been achieved!
More and more foreign tourists are showing interest in tours and visits of local households organized by RAMS Travel Agency, where they can see and participate in the preparing of local food and learn more about life in the Montenegrin countryside.
Isn’t it nice to discover how local people in North Montenegro’s countryside use the traditional recipes they have grown up with? You would be surprised to see what kitchen utensils are used in the “katuns” and villages: wooden bowls, ceramic pots – and all the food is made without mixers, blenders, cutting machines, microwaves…
I am convinced that Slow Food production is a great chance for the future of North Montenegro. And I am also sure that rural tourism has excellent prospects for the future of this region, as many people would like to escape from the crowds and spend a few days on a peaceful farm or ‘katun’, where they can enjoy nature, eat local food and help the hosts in doing their farm work.