Our Idea of the Balkans

The Balkans is one of Europe’s least-known regions, still suspended in a seemingly endless European Union integration process. For centuries a crossroads for people, cultures and religions; it is still home to unique gastronomic traditions. These traditions could serve as an economic, social and cultural driving force for many rural communities impoverished by decades of abandonment, migration and scarce development prospects.

And yet these traditions, still remarkably authentic, are at risk of disappearing; suffocated by the lethal embrace of a globalization that considers traditional knowledge to be an old-fashioned legacy from the past. In reality, safeguarding them would contribute significantly to the process of integrating the Balkans, including culturally, into the EU.

Recognizing that no national borders can separate food in the Balkans, the Terra Madre forum was launched in 2010; creating a common platform to investigate, understand but above all preserve and sustain the food heritage of the region. The Terra Madre network promotes the region’s often little-known foods, protects those at risk of disappearing and educates consumers on how to understand and search for local traditions, understand and value local artisan products and the communities that produce them.

ESSEDRA (Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas) project is a natural result of the growing and strenghtening of Terra Madre Balkans network. It was launched in 2012 and is co-funded by the European Union through DG enlargement. The project aims to support the integration process of the Balkan countries and Turkey into Europe, but in the same time create conditions for these countries to preserve their identity, demonstrated by their amazing food diversity and artisanal food.

News & Events

A Festival Dedicated To Wild Edible Greens

Turkey… Bilge Bengisu is a wine maker in the Izmir region, and the leader of Slow Food Urla, one of the biggest convivia in Turkey. We met with her right after Slow Food Urla main event, the wild green festival, held on the 21st of March. Why did you feel the need for a wild green festival in Urla? Urla has a very ancient history, dating back to the 12th … Continued

Third Terra Madre Balkans Coming in June

Croatia… From June 19 to 21, the Slow Food and Terra Madre Balkans network will converge on Dubrovnik for a gathering dedicated to small-scale producers and local foods… Two years have passed since the last meeting of the Slow Food and Terra Madre network. That important gathering gave producers, consumers and civil society organizations a chance to share and compare their experiences. During the last Terra Madre Balkans, held in … Continued

When Hygiene Constrains Quality

Macedonia… Producing safe food is sacrosanct, but when applied with no flexibility, hygiene regulations and packages can end up creating more damage for local products than benefits to food safety… All 15 of us struggle to fit inside Hristo Kostovski’s small butcher’s shop, as he explains to us the secrets of cured pork production in Kruševo, one of the highest towns in the Balkans. The sausage of the same name, … Continued