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 elements of Saudi cuisine were added to the Ark of Taste Archives, an international catalogue of endangered heritage 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 burgeoning culinary sector, including the involvement of Saudi farmers’ markets in the Global Slow Food Earth Market list, and the identification of further opportunities for cooperation.”
Slow Food is a global movement that operates in over 160 countries to preserve and increase awareness of endangered foods that are unique in taste and native to a certain region.
Some of the Saudi foods that were listed in the Ark 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 distinct white desert truffles of the Northern Region called Al-Kamaa, khawlani coffee beans from Jazan Region — among the finest in the world — and Al-Maghmi dates, a traditional Saudi dish made with molasses and sesame seeds.
Registering these foods comes as part of the commission’s efforts to preserve the historical legacy of culinary arts in the Kingdom and encourage the public to protect them from extinction.
Commenting on the participation, Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission, said: “The commission’s attendance at this event is a culmination of the work by 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 audiences will enjoy sampling some of our unique and delicious dishes.”
The conference also saw the Aseer region in 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. A lot of work has been done to empower the community and prepare them for welcoming future visitors to their unique culture. The culinary scene of 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 a rich heritage, and we are proud that the Aseer region has been formally awarded World Region of Gastronomy 2024, in recognition of their efforts to preserve the region's diverse and distinctive food culture while protecting the environment and empowering 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 great milestone towards our (Vision) 2030 goals. The Saudi region of Aseer is awarded World Region of Gastronomy in Italy, where the Italians respect and give much more attention to the food industry.
“Being a Saudi chef who specializes in Italian cuisine 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 en route to greatness and international gastronomy recognition,” 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 native agricultural crops to the world.
Terra Madre is a network of food communities that holds a major conference every two years in Turin to foster discussion and present innovative concepts on food, globalization, and economics.
The conference aims to connect producers from across the food supply chain to encourage collaboration and improve their skills for a more developed global food system.