Slow Food Travel, towards new destinations

During a Terra Madre Forum, held on March 6, the experience of the European Union (EU) funded project “Community-based Value Chain Enhancement in the Greater Caucasus Mountains area in Azerbaijan” (COVCHEG) in developing the first Slow Food Travel destination in Asia was showcased. 

Slow Food Travel, in fact, is designed for curious, responsible travelers who want to really get to know the local gastronomic culture of the places they visit, without forgetting sustainability and the food biodiversity. And Azerbaijan is the ideal place to make pleasant discoveries and find out not only simple folklore, but also authentic and millenary traditions.

The journey towards a new destination in Azerbaijan was presented through the stories of those who are working on the COVCHEG project. Terra Madre (  visitors were introduced in a journey through unique gastronomic traditions made from dialog and experiences with the real custodians of these lands: the food producers.

“The project – said Florian Sengstschmid, Chief Executive of Azerbaijan Tourism Board, partner of the project – serves the promotion of the true value of the food products, preservation of biodiversity, as well as the creation of an additional source of income for small and medium food producers. Slow Food Travel offers territories the possibility to develop their potential as a quality gastronomic destination, respecting strict guidelines and the Slow Food philosophy, through the construction of alliances and experiences that best enhance the local gastronomic heritage. The aim is to bring travelers closer to the conservation of food biodiversity and the knowledge of local cultures, identities and gastronomies. Many of the stops will touch upon Slow Food Presidia, allow people to get to know the products of the Ark of Taste, or offer stays at Terra Madre food communities”.

To create the Slow Food Travel destination, were involved many stakeholders: producers, restaurants, accommodation facilities from pilot districts of Gakh, Gabala, Shaki, Ismayilli, and Shamakhi.

“Due to lockdown restrictions, – notes Nasimi Sadiqzade, Slow Food Travel coordinator for the COVCHEG project in Azerbaijan – it has not been easy to work on the ground and allow all project participants to get to know each other and collaborate. There is still a long way to go, but we are very confident because the project has given us the opportunity to discover the potential of our territory and make them discover to the whole world. We not only want to make the products of our land known and bring them to the homes of consumers, but, in the spirit of Slow Food and in particular of the Slow Food Travel project, we want to bring consumers to the products and shorten the supply chain even more”.

With the financial support of the European Union, through the COVCHEG project, Slow Food, in partnership with the Azerbaijan Tourism Board, is working to safeguard local biodiversity, develop sustainable local value chains and promote gastronomic tourism as an additional source of revenue for more resilient rural communities in Azerbaijan. Working closely with local authorities, civil society groups, and other stakeholders, the EU-Azerbaijan partnership will share EU best practices and experience on local identities and gastronomy as well as the conservation of biodiversity and cultural heritage in the area.