Traces of Thracean tastes

A couple of years back; I was attending an International Traditional Foods Symposium in the Thracian city of Tekirdağ, which turned out to be a very interesting discovery for me. During the closing reception, a stocky guy walked directly toward me and introduced himself. He was a professor at Namık Kemal University. He somehow had spotted my journalism background and wanted to talk to me.

Almost instantly we jumped into the topic of indigenous sheep varieties and the much praised lamb cutlets of the Thrace region. He abruptly made a sharp comment, saying sternly: My dear Aylin Hanım, if we love these animals, we have to eat them!

It was stark, but I got the point at once. For the sustainability of regional foods, we need to create a market for them. We need to recognize them, know their qualities, and be willing to pay for their value and keep demanding them. If we opt for the cheaper meat cuts and products of farm-fed industrialized husbandry, and do not pay for the high quality rare breeds, we will soon lose them forever, sooner then we think. Prof. Ä°hsan Soysal knew that so well and dedicated himself to protecting the indigenous farm animals of Anatolia, not only documenting and researching about them, but also initiating many projects to sustain their existence. The next day, I was introducing him to just the right people in Istanbul at a conference on geographical appellation. Eventually he became a member of my Slow Food group and represented Turkey in Italy as a delegate of Terra Madre. He spent his days in Torino visiting every butcher possible, spotting local breeds. He is one of the few who is aware of the virtues of the Thrace region and does all what is needed to protect local tastes, some in danger of losing their particular...

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