Ascolano Olives at the Terra Madre marketplace

22 October 2020

Since the very first edition of Salone del Gusto in 1996 the Ascolano olives of Migliori have been a constant presence, and they’re back again in the online marketplace.

Indeed, very few businesses can claim to have such a long and successful collaboration with the events of Slow Food as these producers from Ascoli Piceno.

Of course there’s no comparing the feeling of following the smells of their street kitchen across a city square, as we’re used to doing at Slow Fish, Cheese, and every edition of Terra Madre. But Augusto won’t be held down by the limitations imposed on this year’s event. In fact, he sees an opportunity in it: “This year, as we’re online, I’ll even have time to listen to the conferences!”

UNUSUAL LUGGAGE: A DEEP FRYER AND STUFFED OLIVES

“Not take part in Terra Madre Salone del Gusto? No! For us it’s a tradition: we’ve been there since 1996, since the very first edition. Well, not me personally, I was only 10 years old 1996, but my father went to Turin that year, with our Ascolano olives. He even took part in a Taste Workshop on table olives.”

Augusto Migliori is the son of Nazzareno, known by all as “Zè”: an old-school entrepreneur, with a thousand ideas and a real desire to put them into action. That year, preparing for his journey north to Turin, he wondered: “What if someone wants to taste the real deal, after tasting these cold table olives?” So he puts his deep fryer and some pre-stuffed olives in his luggage. The fried Ascolano olives were a certified hit, and so this biennial trip to Turin became a fixed part of the calendar for the Migliori family.

“I think it was right, even in 2020, to organize a new edition of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, using the technology we have available now. If this situation had happened 20 years ago it wouldn’t have been possible to organize an online edition of the event, but now, thanks to being online, there are even advantages for us exhibitors: we’ll even have time to follow some of the conferences for ourselves!”

ASCOLANO OLVIES: A FAMILY STORY

Olives stuffed with meat and spices, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. There are variations on this basic theme, and the number of potential recipes as wide as your imagination will allow. “Each family makes them in their own way, keeping alive generations of tradition. Often, in the days before Christmas, we all get together around the table: one person pits the olives, one takes care of the meat, another grates the cheese. It’s a recipe that brings the family together; it has a sentimental value that’s really important in Ascoli.”

“My first time at Salone del Gusto was in 1998, at the second edition,” Augusto remembers. “Obviously we brought our olives, and all our experience making them Ascolano style. We start with the highest-quality ingredients: only then, if you’re good and everything goes well, can you expect to deliver good results.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

There’s an environmentally-conscious background to the family’s work. “We’ve substituted all the plastic containers with 100% biodegradable packages, including the labels.” There’s a social aspect, too: “We’ve been promoting the PDO for many years. It’s main goal is to support the development of this area and the people who work in agriculture and food production. The Ascolano olive is cultivated by hand – we pay €3.20 a kilo for them. It’s a high price compared to many other olives, but these olives must be harvested manually, with a certain care and precision. For people to continue doing this hard work they need to be adequately compensated. And this money largely remains in the local economy.”

by Marco Gritti, m.gritti@slowfood.it

Check out the Terra Madre marketplace and Migliori Olives. In the showcase you can find a complete presentation of the exhibitor and their products.