Discovering the gastronomic heritage of Central Europe

Five cities have identified their symbolic gastronomic products and pilot actions to promote them

The SLOW FOOD - CE: Culture, Heritage, Identity and Food project, financed by Interreg CENTRAL EUROPE (CE), is at a turning point. 

Venice (Italy), Dubrovnik (Croatia), Brno (Czech Republic), Kecskemét (Hungary) and Krakow (Poland), the five cities involved, have been mapped in order to highlight the products, which represent their local gastronomic heritage. Brno has identified the Panenské Ćeské Apple, a tasty, particularly resistant and suitable variety for storage and direct consumption. In Croatia we find the Dubrovnik Malvasia, a gentle and delicate dry white wine which goes well with white fish, and Ston Salt from the oldest and best-preserved European salt pan. Kecskemét is known as the orchard of Hungary due to the long hours of sunlight and a special soil structure. The Hankovszky Apricot is the most precious of several local fruit varieties. Apricot "pálinka" is the world famous "trademark" of Kecskemét; these apricot preserves are versatile ingredients in Hungarian gastronomy. Krakow has selected the Obwarzanek krakowski, a ring-shaped bread that is boiled and sprinkled with salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds or cheese before being baked. A popular snack in the city, it is traditionally sold from street carts. In Venice we find, among other products, the Lagoon Schia, a small grey crustacean usually fried and served with soft white polenta. To accompany the schia, wine made with the ancient Dorona Grape. 

To test innovative, community-led solutions for the promotion of gastronomic heritage in public spaces, these five cities have started their pilot actions, which will be implemented this year and involve citizens, school children and tourists in their activities.

  • Next autumn Venice will organise Venice Food Days (provisional title), a local event to discover the real taste of the city and promote its products and gastronomy, in cooperation with all the main local food and gastronomy stakeholders.
  • With the Learn to taste the diversity of South Moravia programme, Brno will focus on the flavours of the South Moravian region, promoting them through activities with children, exhibitions and markets, such as creating a new seasonal menu for schools, printing a catalogue of local products and organizing meetings with farmers to prepare typical dishes.
  • The edible, multimedia, multisensory exhibition City Breadwinners, which aims to enhance the dignity of food producers by presenting the city’s gastronomic heritage, will be at the centre of Dubrovnik’s activities throughout the year.
  • In Hungary, the Kecskemét Green Market will host training sessions for producers, food education activities, tastings and cooking, guided tours and meetings with local producers.
  • Last but not least Kraków will present the Culinary Krakow: Heritage on the plate. The initiative gives visitors a chance to enjoy a full gastronomic heritage tour of Krakow, thus diversifying the city’s touristic offer and encouraging visitors to explore new areas.

Any European city can now adopt the method developed by the five protagonists of the SLOW FOOD - CE project to promote their gastronomic heritage. In order to give examples, advice and some online courses, we have launched the Food Paths Network platform, accessible by any interested city which wants to adopt a common approach to protect their respective culinary heritage with the objective of protecting food heritage with the objective of turning gastronomic capital to good account.

The project

The SLOW FOOD - CE project has created a transferable model that can give traditional foods their true value, through knowledge of their producers, plant varieties, animal breeds, traditional processing techniques, folklore and cultural landscapes to enhance the common food heritage of Central Europe. This has led to a new alliance between five cities: Venice, Dubrovnik, Brno, Kecskemét and Krakow. Its main goal is to improve the capacities of local actors to promote the intangible heritage of food in a vision that integrates economic, environmental and social sustainability. The five cities involved are considered a perfect laboratory for the development of the “new-gastronomy” concept promoted by Slow Food: a multidisciplinary approach to food that recognizes the strong connections between plate, planet, and people.

*The Slow Food-CE partnership is made up of 10 partners from 5 Central European countries working together to build a common methodology for the identification and promotion of cultural resources connected to food heritage.
Italy (Slow Food, City of Venice, University of Gastronomic Sciences)
Croatia (City of Dubrovnik Development Agency, Kinookus Association)
Czech Republic (Tourist Authority South Moravia, Slow Food Brno)
Hungary (Municipality of Kecskemét, Kiskunság Tradition-bound, Artisans and Tourism Association)
Poland (Municipality of Krakow)
Associated partners - 7 associated partners support project partners in involving stakeholders and disseminating project results: the Ston Tourist Board (HR), the City of Dubrovnik (HR), the City of Brno (CZ), the Malopolska Tourism Organisation (PL), the Academy of Physical Education and Tourism in Krakow (PL), the European Institute for the History and Cultures of Food (FR), and Europa Nostra (NL).