In Impatient Foodie (Scribner, June), author Elettra Wiedemann, who adapted the book from her blog of the same name, gives everyday home cooks shortcuts to the slow-food lifestyle.
Slow food began as a grassroots movement in Italy more than 30 years ago but has since evolved. How do you define the term?
I define it personally as locavorism, seasonal eating, organic when possible, basically farmer’s market shopping. But I found, as I was trying to live that lifestyle perfectly as a young woman when I was studying and working two different jobs, that it was really hard to participate in.
You previously worked as a fashion model and obtained a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics. How have those experiences shaped your outlook on food?
I lived off pasta as a child; that’s all I ever wanted to eat. When I got recruited to modeling, I couldn’t really do that anymore because eating pasta isn’t conducive to fitting into sample sizes. So, I had to re-teach myself how to cook. I wanted to eat things that were delicious and felt filling, but were also healthy and could help me achieve the body that I needed to work. Fast forward a few years later, I got my Master’s degree at LSE and ended up studying public health, environmental politics, and cultural theory. At LSE, in order to graduate, you have to write a dissertation that encompasses all the classes you’ve taken. While I was brainstorming topics, I realized that food really connected [those three things]. The Impatient Foodie blog was born out of these two weird, seemingly disconnected realities of fashion and academia.
What’s a tactic a busy home cook can use to cultivate a slow-food lifestyle?
When I was going food shopping, I found that what really helped me was to shop as much as I could at farmer’s markets and then buy my extras at a local grocery store. A lot of the food in the book is centered around that.
How do you think your book adds to the conversation about slow food?
The slow food movement has taught us really important lessons about the impact our food has on the wider planetary and economic systems. At the same time, there’s the reality that people want to participate in it but maybe don’t have time to stand over a roast for eight hours [or have the money] to shop at farmer’s markets. My hope with Impatient Foodie is not only to get consumers more involved in the slow food movement, but to get the slow food movement to become more aware of ways it can meet consumers in the middle and make its lifestyle more convenient.