The earliest I could leave Canada was 8 am, October 22, and my goal was to be seated in the Sala Azzurra (Blue Room) inside the Lingotto Fiere convention centre in Turin, Italy, listening to an international panel discuss seed sovereignty and seed saving at Slow Food’s biennial Terra Madre and the Salone del Gusto, at noon on October 23.
My trip would take 18 hours of travel time from here to there – that’s 13 hours of being wedged into an airplane seat. I packed only carry-on luggage as I needed to be both efficient and lucky to make my Edmonton-Toronto, Toronto-Frankfurt, and Frankfurt-Turin connections. I was both.
I had done my best to make a schedule of talks I wanted to see, of the Slow Food Canada meeting on Saturday, and the one Taste Workshop on Sunday evening, Mexican Chilies with Zurrita, I had managed to book for my husband and myself. Otherwise, I was hoping to go from booth to booth finding and interviewing seed savers from around the world. It wasn’t much, but it was the best attempt at a “plan” that I could make past “In the Beginning It was a Seed” in order to make the most of my five days in at Slow Food’s Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre. Let’s call them SdG/TM for short. (If you don’t know what these two terms mean, I'll be publishing a “The Lay of the Slow Food Land” posting soon.)
I arrived on time at 10 am, figured out the bus from the airport and took the metro to the Lingotto Fiere. My pre-purchased “Print @ Home” general admission 5-day entrance pass worked and I bypassed hundreds of people snaking along ticket purchase line. I picked my way through the trade show halls to the back corner of Pad 3 where the Sala Azzurra was located. I handed over my passport in exchange for a translation headset. Miraculously, I was seated and ready to take in the seed panel discussion at 12 pm.
So far, so good. But as the size and scope of the space and the activities of the SdG/TM/Taste Workshops began to sink in that day, I had the sinking feeling in my gut that I was woefully unprepared for the rest of the SdG/TM experience, or rather adventure. I was missing a lot, unaware of a lot, unable to navigate the enormous volume of options. I often felt both frenzied and paralyzed within moments of each other.
It was a common refrain I heard from other first-timers too. So I’m writing this now, while it’s fresh and before the glow of nostalgia edges out the many times I muttered to myself (and to a few other first-timers going through similar waves of emotion), “Would have been nice to know about THIS, wouldn’t it?”
This series is meant to be a sort of White Paper to hopefully be of help to other first-timers. And maybe as a reminder to myself for the 2016 event. I have a feeling I’ll go again, with hard-earned experience of how to squeeze even more out of this unique experience.
Next Post: To Delegate or Not To Delegate, That Was The Question.
 From what I understand, Terra Madre and the Salone del Gusto used to be two separate events, held at different times. They are now held in unison, under one roof and entrance to the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre is now under one ticket. Taste Workshops, which were by far my favourite activity at the event, was totally unknown to me. Also there are “Dinner Dates” which were specific dinners around Turin that you could have signed up for on the program. I have heard that these are incredible too. Again, many were sold-out early.