The title of European Region of Gastronomy 2019 has been awarded to the South Aegean in Greece and the Transylvanian town of Sibiu in Romania, the international jury announced on 29 September.
The title is awarded each year by the IGCAT (International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism) with the support of European institutions. The award aims to stimulate gastronomic innovation and sustainable tourism. As noted on its website, it is ‘a stimulus to link food, hospitality, tourism, culture, health and sustainability to support economic, cultural, social and environmental development’. Both regions will host a programme of gastronomy-related events throughout 2019 that will showcase regional culture and innovation.
This is the second significant award for Sibiu, which was also the European Capital of Culture in 2007. The city was founded during the peak of Saxon influence, and under the Habsburgs it served as the seat of the Austrian governors of Transylvania. These days it attracts tourists with a charming bohemian ambience and is said to have more festivals than any other town in Romania. The city’s mayor Astrid Fodor said that Sibiu will offer visitors the best and healthiest foods, with ingredients sourced from local farms, and try to promote traditional foods like smoked meats, country cheeses and stews.
The South Aegean region of Greece consists of the Cyclades and Dodecanese island groups in the central and south-eastern Aegean Sea. The region has more than 50 inhabited islands with specific historical backgrounds and culture, as well as distinctive gastronomic identity and local products, from Santorini and Mykonos to Rhodes and Patmos. George Hatzimarkos, the region’s governor, stated that for the South Aegean, gastronomy is not just about food, but also a social and cultural event. Quality ingredients are shaped by the micro-climate, the sun, the air and the sea, with trademark olive groves and vineyards part of the gastronomic tradition.