It sounds exotic: The Silk Road. I would reckon that any traveler who hears those words gets a tingle up their spine. But just in case you’re not familiar with it, it’s an ancient set of trade routes that connects East, South, and West Asia with the Mediterranean world as well as North Africa and Europe. Marco Polo, in the 13th century, brought tales of his travels along these routes into China back to Europe.
As reported by Slowfood.com, a group of genetic researchers accompanied by a cameraman, a photographer, and two journalists are embarking on a trip between July and September, following Marco Polo’s footsteps. They will travel through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan in order to investigate the genetics of taste.
Lead researcher Paolo Gasparini:
We hope to gain a better understanding of genetics of taste and food preferences and their relationships with traditions and health of communities.
According to Marcopolo2010.it, the research topics will include:
- Genetics of populations
- Genetics of taste and sensory perception
- Sociology of dreams
- Ethno-climatologic changes
- Maternal and child health
They also emphasize that the communities which they interact with will play an important role in all activities of the project. The project will give the communities an opportunity to promote their products and traditions. The research team’s findings will be presented at the next Terra Madre world meeting in Turin, Italy in October of this year.