this is one of the rare days that i wish math and i were better friends.
if math and i were better friends, i would make up an equation for you.
that equation would at least include these ingredients:
the more food and anthropology events i go to → the more ideas i have → the more i want to write → the less time i actually have to write → the more likely i'm going to be overwhelmed → the more likely i'm going to put off writing and go to a different food event instead → the more i'll have to write → and the more likely i'm going to run out of business cards and look like a crazy person.
of course, i probably look like a crazy person with the business cards, anyway, so that point is probably moot.
the mid-atlantic food expo is an event i probably should have talked to you about last (after last year's event). but i didn't. so whatever. we can talk about it now.
the m-a.f. expo is an old school event that is somehow still surviving in our modern food-crazed society. like any expo, there's a bunch of vendors all showing off their new or existing merch to potential customers (restaurateurs). there are foods to try, demonstrations, a couple of competitions. it's all in good spirit and it's a great place for local and big businesses to showcase themselves.
oh, and if you sign up ahead of time online, it's free. that's not too shabby.
the reason why i find it fascinating that the m-a.f. expo is still thriving is it's lack of publicity. oh, there are email reminders and ads and stuff like that if you know where to look. but if you don't... well, it might as well not exist. in the past two years, i haven't run into another food blogger at the expo. and every time i passed the v.i.p./news corner, it was empty. so, perhaps what i mean when i say there's a certain lack of publicity is that there is a certain lack of acknowledgment about this event in the food blogsphere.
which is interesting in itself when you consider the extent to which corporations have begun to rely on food bloggers and food writers to try out and review their products. why go to all the trouble of shipping ingredients and tools to writers when you could just invite them to a large event with several products on hand for them to taste or test. i can't imagine the restaurateur attendees being upset about a sudden influx of food writers — after all, they depend just as heavily on reviews as food corporations do. it's all about networking.
getting back to the expo, the only reason why i knew about the event in the first place is because, way back when i was in culinary school, students were encouraged to attend. at the time i thought it amazing tickets were provided for all the students. clearly i did not know then what i know now. free tickets. way to be cheap, culinary school.
it wasn't until last year, when the cactus garden was just starting to become a permanent project for me, that i remembered the expo and reserved tickets for myself.
i went on my own, which was much less awkward than i expected it to be (sk had some papers to write, otherwise she would have joined me). and while the event felt smaller than i remembered, it was just as much fun. the evo beers had just come out and there were free tastings of those. there were local oysters to try on the half shell. everyone was incredibly pleasant and friendly. and i finished off the day stopping in at my old work, mick o'shea's. all in all, a good day.
this year my cousin, cd, joined me. we met in the afternoon on the second day of the event. we wandered for awhile (actually, we made a few loops through all of the booths), went out and had a happy hour glass of wine at a nearby bar, and then came back for a final stop through. we tried mini-kiwis (which oddly enough have no fur and are sweet like grapes) and dragon fruit. some random vendors gave us living lettuce (which then everyone we met wanted to know where we had gotten it from). i told cd the story of the lady who had tried to eat plastic display pasta last year. we had a good time.
it would be difficult to go through vendor by vendor to evaluate the people we met, the products we saw and tasted, and the impressions that we had. some vendors, like the ecolab guys, were friendly, but pushy — even after we made it clear that we didn't own a restaurant and didn't really need industrial sanitizer for our homes. a couple other vendors were pushy in a bad way — and their give-aways went right into the recycling. but those type of people show up at every event and you can't let it color your experience.
other vendors, like cibao meats, i only remember because i picked up a brochure. cibao meats is a hispanic sausage and salami supplier. i wouldn't have remembered their company name without the brochure — though i do remember that the girl working the booth did not appear to know which countries were in south america and which were not.
then there were the really good vendors. the moorenko's ice cream ladies were lovely. (i may have to go to eddie's to get some more of their ice cream. i know. this is me saying this. i don't eat sweets. it's crazy talk.) the clear winner of the non-existent "best vendor" award was koppert cress, a company specializing in micro-vegetables. not only was the vendor knowledgeable and friendly, she let cd and me each take home a large box of micro-greens at the end of the day. that was exciting.
so next year if i'm around, i'll be going back to the m-a.f. expo. because it's a good time and it's all about getting out of my comfort food-writing place.
oh, and micro-greens, of course.
and by the way, yes. yes, i did have my own mini micro-green photo-shoot when i got home: