THE FRICOT PROJECT
Indigenous Produce + Local Food Culture + Traditional Recipes
For almost two decades we have been diligently researching the indigenous foods of Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe while collecting the traditional food recipes of the regions in these areas. Later this year we will promote the fruits of this research with the publication of several books, in the establishment of the Tastes of Europe Tour and in the official launch of our project, which we call Fricot after the French-Norman word for tasty, popular dish.
Now the research has become a serious matter. To go deeper into the food cultures of the regions, to explore the origins of native produce and local value-added products, and to reveal the stories behind the popular, tasty foods that are now typically traditional, and to make this information freely available in the public domain, we must engage specialist researchers in each country.
Ultimately the fruits of this second phase of the Fricot Project will be made on various platforms, via educational programmes, live events, multi-media and through the interaction between the people of the various regions.
This is our Friends of Fricot Fund Appeal. It will be matched by other private (and public) funding for non-profit purposes. All monies raised by the live events and profits raised through media platforms (podcasts, books, booklets and videos) will go directly to the research. Recipes will continue to be tested in our experimental kitchens, which will eventually house the lecture rooms and offices of The Fricot Project in different countries.
People Place Produce
Food connects us culturally to sensuous people, atavistic place and wonderful produce.
People ≈ Place ≈ Produce!
This translates as a fabulous tradition in every language in every region. People celebrate their creative methods of cooking and by using indigenous produce that is unique to each producer they are expressing terroir in the true sense of the word.
The term ‘show cooking’ has emerged to describe the ‘live’ action of this activity and suddenly we understand the concept of people, place, produce.
English gastronome Keith Floyd never knew how much the world had started to lose when he described the produce of Provence in the 1970s. Fifty years later we know it was the simplicity of sustainability that is celebrated by the cooking and preparation of local produce.
Italian Food historians Alberto Capatti and Massimo Montanari describe this as the desperate demand for diversity and distinctive ‘provincial’ flavours.
According to Ruxandra Lupu, organiser of Monsu‘ Fest: The Discovery of Authentic Sicilian Food (one of the Tastes of Europe Tour events), traditional dishes have always been popular at local level, where the strong connection to the gastronomic tradition is practised like a ritual.
A wind of change, like the Provençal mistral, has begun to sweep through European traditional cookery. The traditional food of the peripheries and regions has ascended the high ground, and is becoming established. This is not a surprise.
Ever since English writer Elizabeth David produced her book of Mediterranean recipes and followed it with books on French and Italian provincial cooking in the 1950s, and food scientists began to study the health of southern European communities, the traditional food of the continent has attracted the enquiring eyes of clever chefs who believed her when she claimed it was always about ‘local ingredients and traditional methods’ and separate from the manufactured illusion of haute cuisine.
With its emphasis on fresh produce, primarily fish and fowl and dairy products, vegetables, legumes, oils, salads, herbs, seeds, nuts, roots, grains, berries and fruit, on dried and cured meats, on fermented foods, on ancient methods of bread making, on old style confectionary and pastry concoctions, traditional food has become the new tourism – because it is authentic.
The Fricot Project seeks to capture the totality of the traditional food cultures of Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe by utilising multi-media to record information on all the indigenous ingredients and traditional recipes — a simple explanation that does not reveal the complexity (and cost) of the project.
The Savoy Project of France, Italy, Switzerland
The indigenous produce and traditional recipes of the alpine regions, continuing research started in the early 2000s.
The Po Valley Project of Italy
The indigenous produce and traditional recipes of the Po Valley, lakes, lower slopes and Po Delta, continuing research started in the
The Monsu’ Fest Project of Sicily
The indigenous produce and traditional recipes of the island, continuing research started in the early 2000s.
Street Markets of Europe Project / Sustainable FoodSecurity
Indigenous produce and local value-added products, particularly markets associated with short chains and specific food cultures and traditions, continuing research started in the early 2000s.
Food Artisans Project
Indentifying artisans across Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe working traditional produce to sell as value-added products directly to the consumer.
Fricot A-Z Project
Summaries of thousands of indigenous ingredients plus entries on thousands of traditional recipes, 2020, continuing research from 2000s.
Alpine, Carpathian and Caucasus Projects
Identifying the local food traditions of these mountain regions, with an emphasis on cheese-making and cured meat production plus bread and confectionary making.
During 2017 and 2018 The Fricot Project will seek to employ researchers to undertake grassroots (live) research in these three areas:
Baltic Sea Basin (based in Denmark);
Black Sea Basin (based in Istanbul);
Mediterranean Basin (based in Sicily);
and supplement the existing research projects. These researchers will report to a lead researcher based in alpine Switzerland, where an educational element will be complimented by an experimental kitchen.
It is envisaged that during 2019 and 2020 contract researchers will be employed in each language region.
The primary object of this research will be the identification using historical and contemporary sources of traditional recipes and the collection of information on specific local ingredients, with close attention paid to the origins of produce and products, and to the stories associated with both ingredients and recipes.
The educational element will operate at five levels – primary (ages 5-12), secondary (ages 13-18), degree (undergraduate and masters) and public – in league with schools, colleges and universities throughout Anatolia, the Caucasus and Europe as courses, demonstrations, field work, talks and lectures.
The public element is the Tastes of Europe Tour. This will create a sensibility for sustainable food security to become an integral aspect of 21st century society.
The focus of each event will be indigenous produce, artisanal products and traditional dishes in the context of sustainability. Each event will feature food stalls (with local, regional, national and continental produce), cookery and baking classes (for children and teenagers), demonstrations and tastings, free tastings of traditional foods, food quizzes, talks on traditional food culture and sustainable food security, workshops on marketing strategies, on producer-consumer relationships and on value-chain and short food chain dynamics, media awareness, and buffet spreads featuring the traditional food of the region, country and continent.
THE FRICOT PROJECT
Sustainable Food Security
For many years we have been doing primary research on artisanal and small-scale food production, looking at the business of farming and fishing, processing and selling, baking and cooking.
We have identified bakers, beef, pig, poultry and sheep farmers, cheese makers, chef-restaurateurs, chocolatiers, fish processors, food educators, food innovators, freshwater, inshore and offshore fishers, fruit farmers, grain farmers, grocers, legume farmers, patissiers, vegetable farmers and assorted people working in small-scale and family food production at every stage, from the micro-environment to the dinner plate.
Specifically we have looked at the bio-economic and eco-social impacts, the dynamics of the value-chain system, the reasons for success and failure of artisanal food businesses, the role of the state in small-scale food production, innovative marketing, promotion and selling, the benefits of EU policy, the significance of grant-aid, the necessity for educational support, cooperative systems, strategic applications (such as centralised distribution – from small-scale producer to small-scale grocer) and the benefits and implications from small-scale food activity on sustainable food security.
Our research combines techniques from ethnography, journalism (or reportage) and sociology, with recorded interviews, observational descriptions (including photography), note taking, field science and primary and secondary documentation providing the material, initially for policy documentation and educational tools, finally for academic and mainstream publication (print and e books).
The mainstream book element (as stories and recipes in 15 cm x 15 cm pocket, and large format books) will be augmented by a broadcast element and a web element.
Robert Allen, FP co-ordinator