After reading cyber-commentary on the “Fancy” Food Show, I’m going to revise my notion that anyone trying to cover it is like a blind person describing an elephant. This year it seems the blind took the elephant on a honeymoon to Niagara Falls. Dicks are the New! Big! Thing! Really, you could substitute anything for herbs there and build a report around it (especially with Bangin’ Blueberry “pesto”). What I noticed was that the last day is the best day; the usually hyper pushers in the booths are too fried and stupefied to harass the hell out of you when they see a press badge. Ask what a coolly packaged drink called Twelve is and the beaten woman pouring it will just say: “Twelve.”
Aside from grits in a tube, the things that jumped out at me were seasoned skewers (much easier than buying grillable chicken with flavor) and energy bars for pregnant women (Baby Needs Chocolate? Right. Baby Probably Also Could Use a Stiff Drink Now and Then). The first booth I stopped at was showcasing GOP and Democratic cookies, and when I asked what the difference was, the sheepish vendor could have been describing the general election: Nothing but the package. I decided not to taste until I saw either something new or something weird and went through two whole long aisles before succumbing to Smoky Mango Barbecue Sauce (which was just as awful as it sounds; all it needed was white chocolate).
Other random thoughts: Crab can be really scary (especially when a bite of dip will send you straight to Paula Deen chemical dressing to erase the taste). Cheese will absorb anything: pickles, olives, Thai curry. But the three scariest words on a cheese label are “no refrigeration needed.” Then again, someone thinks the world needs pasta in the shape of the Star of David. And pumpkin pie fudge, too. Bad riesling makes worse ice cream. (Champagne, however, was made to be sorbet.) “Quality is not an option” is a very strange slogan. And could chocolate possibly benefit from being stone-ground? Stone-washed I could see. . .
Given that it was the last day, the celebrities on so many labels were mostly not to be seen, aside from the suspiciously thin orange-freckled arms on a bag of mixed grated cheeses coming soon to supermarkets everywhere. But one ubiquitous big name I did spot signing autographs made me realize a plastic surgeon is not the best friend a famous face can have. Photoshop is much, much kinder.