Slow Food -CE: Krakow is taking on the issue of tourism, and working on striking a balance between viability, sustainability, and tradition, in the lead up to Krakow’s tenure as European Capital of Gastronomy in 2019.
Szymon Gatlik, Chief Specialist in Tourism Marketing for the Municipality of Krakow, is part of the action group leading the city’s work towards the protection and promotion of its gastronomy as part of the Slow Food Central Europe project.
“Krakow is home to more than a million people, and an important center for food production and retail” explains Szymon, who spoke to us during Terra Madre Salone del Gusto. “Notwithstanding the size of the city, many citizens prefer to shop in small shops and stalls at local traditional markets, often directly from farmers. As a result, there are as many as 27 markets and a few more around the metropolitan area, each feeding several thousands of citizens. In this respect, the inhabitants of Krakow are vital contributors to the preservation of traditional, small-scale farming in the Krakow region”.
Krakow’s museums and monuments, the legends and tales that accompany them are testament to the rich history and heritage of the city. “The city’s gastronomic heritage has nevertheless been somewhat neglected, and a profound analysis remains to be undertaken”, continues Szymon. “This has led to a slightly blinkered focus on a few well-known and well-loved examples, like obwarzanek, the Krakow pretzel, while countless others languish forgotten and unappreciated. The Slow Food-CE project’s scope in Krakow aims to address this focus, adding the depth to our understanding that will match that reflected in the city’s gastronomy”.
The Slow Food-CE project in Krakow will focus on tourism as both product and spur for the development and protection of the city’s gastronomy. Revitalizing the cafés and farynas that have been a part of the city’s makeup through the centuries, something of an equivalent to today’s concepts of street food, is among the many examples of how gastronomic heritage could entail an important tourist value.
The project counts among the many initiatives in the city that promote cooperation with other cities across the central European region, providing ambitious and exciting projects, and a level of funding that would be inaccessible were the city acting alone. For this they have the European Union to thank, not only for offering the resources necessary, but for putting faith in local partner groups to carry out these creative and adventurous projects.
In Krakow, the goal of the Slow Food-CE project is clearly defined: to create a tourism product that promotes and supports the local gastronomic tradition. The hope is to decentralize and diversify the tourist traffic, bringing to the fore the oft-ignored culinary delights that Krakow and its region have to offer. As Szymon points out, “Krakow’s jewels are many, including its rich gastronomic history its culinary traditions. For us, success will be making our guests discover them."