First Slow Food Market: a brief report

Topsham's Matthews Hall, filled almost to bursting for the first Slow Food Devon Topsham Market

Topsham, Devon January 21, 2008 What a huge and satisfying relief: the first Slow Food Topsham Devon Market which took place yesterday was a resounding success! Almost the minute the doors of Matthews Hall opened at 11am, the hall was packed with interested market goers who came to learn, to taste and to buy. By noon, the hall was as busy as I have ever seen it, and the general consensus is that we attracted well over a thousand visitors throughout the four hours that the market was on. Many producers were so busy that they sold out within the first few hours.

And what a wonderful range of producers there were, all offering truly quality produce and products that adhered to Slow Food's underlying ethos of food that is 'good, clean and fair', including meat from nearby farms; organic vegetables picked that morning; locally made, world-class farmhouse cheddar and other cheeses; handmade chocolates; authentic Devon straw-pressed cider; outstanding breads and other baked goods; fruit preserves, juices and chutneys; beer, Devon and Italian wines and more. Publisher Tom Jaine brought along a fascinating selection of food and food history books.

Emma Parkin of Emma's Brreads

Our aim was always to create a space where people would gather to relax, meet friends, taste great foods, eat and drink, and generally gain a sense of community and friendship based around the shared enjoyment of foods. Near the stage there was a café area of seating and this proved to be popular, with foods on offer that included a Laotian stew of smoked pheasant and sticky rice; warming homemade winter vegetable soup; quiches and cheese platters; and sauteed diver's scallops and bacon. Live music was provided by the always popular Alex Harding.

Meanwhile, on the stage of Matthews Hall, we had put in place a program for a series of Slow Food Taste Workshops on a variety of fascinating topics. Jason from the South Devon Chilli Farm gave a talk and tasting of different varieties of chillies; David Kerley of The Fish Shed showed an interested audience how to prepare fish; and Natacha Du Pont De Bie spoke passionately about the cuisine and culture of Laos.

Natacha's Slow Food Taste Workshop on the cuisine and culture of Laos.

Fred Dudbridge, leader of Slow Food Devon, said, "The response to today's market has been absolutely fantastic! It has been a great day, and it demonstrates how many people really do care about where food comes from. All the producers and suppliers here today support Slow Food values and ethos. But it's more than that. Slow Food is also about the simple enjoyment of food among friends and we have experienced that today."

Indeed we did. For this first market was as much about community as about food, and it demonstrated what a very special place Topsham is.Good food, enjoyed slowly away from the rush of modern life, really does bring people together. Choosing and buying food carefully, talking and learning about food, and eating and drinking above all are social activities and markets like this should be at the heart of local communities.

All in all, it was a great day of enjoyment, learning, tasting and friendship, in true slow style. The Slow Food ethos clearly can sit very well within our community. Well done Freddie! And a big thanks to Steve Hilton, Veronica Coe, Liz Hodges, James Clark, Alex Harding, Dave Kerley, Antonia Littlemore, Natacha, Bill and Yolanda, Jane, Alissa, to all the stallholders and producers, to the Slow Food Devon committee members who allowed the market to transfer here, and to everyone else who made the day such a brilliant success.

Kim and I are a little tired now (and Freddie, I imagine, is exhausted), but we're already looking forward to the next market on Sunday February 17th. Put the date in your diary!

|Home| |QP New Media| |Kim's Gallery|


Copyright © Marc and Kim Millon 1997-2007