You may have heard of the slow food movement.

And, you may have heard of a little thing called Thanksgiving, which can sometimes have a frenetic pace as numerous dishes are prepared, family members arrive, and makeshift tables are brought out to accommodate everyone.

What happens when you mash the two together? A community Thanksgiving dinner for more than 180 guests, served potluck — only one dish required per person or family — outdoors at one continuous table, your place held by writing your name on blank paper in front of your chosen chair. And, of course, there’s wine.

Held next to Okanagan Lake on the grounds of the Naramata Centre, with support from the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and the Naramata Bench Wineries Association, the first ever NaramataSlow Dinner was a celebration of harvest and community, and a call to embrace a slower pace of life. After the busy summer season, what could be better

Guests brought dishes that showcased as much Naramata-grown, hyper-local ingredients as possible. Instead of turkey, Jay Drysdale, owner of Bella Homestead Farm with his wife Wendy, prepared a slow fire-roasted pig, raised a mere two kilometres down the road. Arriving via forklift, it was immediately surrounded by a dozen smartphones held up to snap pictures. Then, served up buffet style with a plethora of side dishes, salads, and desserts.

And the wine. Rather than just grabbing a glass, several wineries from the Bench formed an “Open Air Wine Lab” to explain the Naramata terroir, featuring six grape varietals that exemplify what grows best in this pocket of B.C. wine country.

No one worried about wine pairings or anything burning on the stove. It was a slow meander to fetch food, wine and enjoy an early fall evening with friends, old and new.

Naramata itself is one of only two Cittaslow communities in Canada, and it is that movement, and the corresponding local committee, that provided the inspiration and guidance, respectively, for the evening. Cittaslow was founded in Italy, and its goal is to improve the quality of life in towns by advocating for a slower pace of living, by embracing a more humane and ecologically correct environment. It promotes the enjoyment of food, art, tradition, theatre, and community gathering places.

Sounds like the perfect way to describe Naramata, doesn’t it?

– This article was first published in the Penticton Western News

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