5 Reasons to Rethink the Fancy Food Show
5. Knowledge is Power, not a Dictum. Maybe you’ve been burned by food trends? Chia anyone? Sriracha? How about kale everything? Beverages as medicine? Gluten and lactose as silent enemies within the foods we love?
Look, just because you don’t pay attention to the trends, doesn’t mean they aren’t stalking you. If you didn’t go to the (triumphant return) of the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City (we'll just call it NYC FFS from now on) from June 30 - July 2, you missed the wholesale embracing of tea in everything from popsicles to cocktail mixers. You also missed newfangled popcorn flavors from 479°, ancient grains making accessibility strides , and yes, kale going into things that don’t suck.
4. Happiness is a drug that soothes your tired feet. According to the Specialty Food Association, the NYC FFS broke all records for both display square footage and attendance. This is not surprising, really, since the specialty food industry is an $85billion a year industry that expanded its waistline by over 22% over the past two years. Two years, by the way, during which consumer sentiment turned from pitchfork rebellion to ploughshare mania. Good news for small and local producers if they can hang on.
3. Meet your maker. The memo was received…even at big distributor booths you can meet the guy or gal who actually made this thing you are currently obsessed with. If you walked the 2 million miles of aisles at the NYC FFS, you came across only a handful of hired hands who didn’t know what they were sampling. From Antonio Auricchio at Auricchio Cheese (whose old school style is both admirable and enviable) to Kimberly Tall at Sociale Mocktails (who bravely wades into the wide open category of non-alcoholic cocktails) to Efisio Villecco at Central Formaggi (whose trim and contained appearance is enlivened by a worldclass twinkle in his eyes), to Jose Merino Alemany at Coquito Sabroso (who, together with his sister, make a coconut milk, rum, and cinnamon liqueur that will make Bailey’s buyers stop and reconsider), you can hear directly from them why they made it, with what, and how. And if you take a few moments with each of them, the patter disappears and you can catch a glimpse of who they are. And as we say at culture, if you want to really know a product, understand maker’s motivations.
2. You can say no. You can exercise self-control. You do not have to eat everything. I learned this a little late in the game. I’ll say no more about Summer FFS 2010.
1. Serendipity! You go to see a product at a booth…and end up falling in love with something you’ve never seen before and never would have heard of any other way. This year I fell in love with:
- Caffe Pecora, (in the Mexican booth, which, btw, is getting bigger and better every year) whose Arabica beans are grown and processed in the Veracruz area of Mexico, big flavor, no bitter bite.
- Olympic Provisions’ Saucisson d’Arles which, while delicious and balanced, is also soft enough to snack on without challenging your mandibles. Also, their Finocchiona…but I am a fool for fennel.
- And I was stunned by Les Moulins Mahjoub offerings. I met my (non-cheese) kryptonite. It is Tunisian Artichoke…spread, leaves, doesn’t matter.