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This weekend (Jan. 13-15), Slow Food Tucson will present its first Slow Food Film Festival, combining the talents of local restaurants with cultural and culinary speakers and food-related movies shown at the Crossroads 6. Tickets are still available. Call Barry Infuso at 299-1355 to get tickets. People can buy movie tickets at the theater. The schedule and walk-in rates are available on the web.

The obvious question is: What is slow food?

The Slow Food movement recognizes that the enjoyment of wholesome foods is essential to the pursuit of happiness. Slow Food is an educational organization dedicated to respecting the sustainability of the land and encouraging regional and culinary traditions.

Where did the Slow Food movement originate?

It originated in Italy. Rumor has it that the founder saw a sign that McDonald's was coming soon and decided to start a movement claiming what the country needed was more slow food, not fast food.

How did you get involved in Slow Food?

I was sitting on an airplane reading an in-flight magazine article about Slow Food and liked their philosophy. I joined the national chapter since it was a natural fit for me as a freelance food writer and dean of culinary arts at Pima Community College. The next thing I knew, someone from Italy called, asking me to start a chapter in Tucson. Our first event was at Soleil with 75 participants. We currently have 73 members and an amazing Web presence. I enjoy the philosophical and political aspect of slow foods.

How much does it cost to join?

It costs $60 for individuals and $75 per couple. However, you need not be a member to attend our events. Members do get a reduced rate at events, though.

What is your goal with the Slow Food Film Festival?

Our goal is to expand the awareness of Slow Food within the community and cultural traditions related to food. We are a nonprofit organization, and funds raised go toward helping small farmers participate in farmers' markets, in order to better grow the size and quality of local farmers' markets, and to provide seed money for gardening projects in elementary schools.

I was looking at the schedule, and it's quite ambitious for a first-time event. Primo at the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort is participating and re-creating a dish from the movie Big Night.

Yes. Melissa Kelly was the first to sign on. Primo just received a four-diamond rating from the AAA. Melissa won a James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Northeast a few years ago (1999).

Your Web site says that timpani will be served? What's that?

In the movie Big Night, the timpani was like a symphony of ingredients combined into a big pot that was shaped like a drum. It's not your usual Italian dining experience. Primo is also serving roast pig, antipasti and wine for this special evening. After dinner, Big Night will be shown at the Crossroads 6 with a short discussion following about Italian food and family traditions.

I see that Mary Sue Milliken will be at the Agave brunch on Saturday. Being from Los Angeles, I must say that her City restaurant (now closed) is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It helped change L.A.'s dining scene for the better.

Yes, she's a big proponent of slow food. She and her business partner, Susan Feniger, from the Food Network's Too Hot Tamales, produced all the food for the movie Tortilla Soup. Speaking of which, Chef Ramon Delgado, from Agave in the Desert Diamond Casino, will teach a tortilla soup-making cooking class before the brunch.

What's happening at the recently christened five-diamond Ventana Room?

This will be a plated European-style cooking banquet using locally home-grown organic foods prepared by Chef Philippe Trosch. Here's another dining opportunity that should not be missed.

I remember when I saw the film Chocolat, I immediately wanted Mexican hot chocolate and French truffles, but it was Christmas, so you know how that goes. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman is another mouth-watering flick. Tell me about the Chinese banquet.

Sponsored by the 17th Street Market, it will be a multi-course banquet of epic proportions at the Rose Garden.

Talking about all this food has made me ravenously hungry.

Me, too.


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