RIYADH: The Saudi Culinary Arts Commission is hosting a pavilion at the Terra Madre Network conference in Turin, Italy, to showcase some of the Kingdom’s unique dishes and indigenous foods.
The commission said on Tuesday: “At the conference, 13 pieces of Saudi cuisine were added to the Ark of Taste Archives, an international catalog of endangered foods managed by the Slow Food movement.
“This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Culinary Arts Commission and Slow Food to support the Kingdom’s growing culinary sector, including the involvement of Saudi farmers’ markets in the Global Slow Food Earth Market listing, and the identification of further opportunities for collaboration.”
Slow Food is a global movement that operates in over 160 countries to preserve and raise awareness of endangered foods that are unique in taste and native to a particular region.
Some of the Saudi foods listed in the Sheet of Taste include hassawi rice, native to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and considered one of the most expensive types of rice, and samh seeds, native to Al-Jouf Province.
The list also includes the distinctive white desert truffles from the northern region known as Al-Kamaa, khawlani coffee beans from the Jazan region – among the finest in the world – and Al-Maghmi dates, a traditional Saudi dish made from molasses and sesame seeds.
Registration of these foods comes as part of the Commission’s efforts to preserve the historical heritage of the culinary arts in the Kingdom and encourage the public to protect them from extinction.
Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, commented on the participation: “The Commission’s presence at this event is a culmination of the work of dedicated producers around the Kingdom to elevate our culinary sector. We are delighted to showcase the best of Saudi cuisine at Terra Madre, and we hope the audience will enjoy trying some of our unique and delicious dishes.”
The conference also saw the Aseer region of Saudi Arabia formally awarded the title of World Region of Gastronomy 2024 by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism.
The international jury of IGCAT experts recognized the welcoming spirit of the Aseer community and their willingness to showcase and share their food and culture.
The jury commented: “The light of the Middle East shines from the region of Aseer. Much work has been done to strengthen the community and prepare them to welcome future visitors to their unique culture. The culinary scene in Aseer is rooted in tradition and it has the potential to become a culinary destination and contribute to the creative economy.”
On the award for the Aseer region, Badr said: “Saudi Arabia has a diverse culture and rich heritage, and we are proud that the Aseer region has been formally awarded the World Region of Gastronomy 2024, in recognition of their efforts to preserve the region’s diverse and distinct food culture while protecting the environment and strengthening younger generations.”
Saudi chef Hatoon Altoukhi, touted as one of the best authentic Italian food chefs on social media, told Arab News: “We have reached a major milestone towards our (Vision) 2030 goals. The Saudi region of Aseer is awarded the World Region of Gastronomy in Italy, where Italians respect and pay much more attention to the food industry.
“As a Saudi chef specializing in Italian food and (who) married into an Italian family, I immediately shared the news with our family in Italy and felt so much pride that we are now on our way to greatness and international gastronomy,” he said.
The Kingdom’s participation at Terra Madre is part of broader efforts to stimulate cultural exchange and dialogue with counterparts worldwide while introducing Saudi Arabia’s diverse culinary heritage and indigenous agricultural crops to the world.
Terra Madre is a network of food communities that holds a major conference every two years in Turin to promote discussions and present innovative concepts on food, globalization and economics.
The conference aims to connect producers from across the food chain to encourage collaboration and improve their skills for a more developed global food system.