I first went to the New York Fancy Food Show in 1999. At that time, I had never eaten so many of the foods -Japanese, Turkish, mushroom stems, undercooked animal parts – which these days, are frequent guests on my plate. Also, I remember Italy being the dominant source of exhibitors, East Asia barely was a blip on the event space floor and some guy named Bobby Flay was whipping up mango salsa for the billionth time. Additionally, I completely forgot to go to the convention on a hungry stomach.
Skip forward a mere fifteen years, and I’ll give you a crash course on the goings-on of the 2014 New York Fancy Food Show:
Oh hey, we’re starting off with one of my favorites from the show- Tunisian lablabi. It’s a chickpea stew with olive oil, stale bread, eggs, and cumin, as well as olives and pickles on the side.
Lots of countries had booths this time – ones that stood out to me included Tunisia, Italy, France, Indonesia, the R of Korea, and China (fortunately, no stinky tofu or cement-filled eggs this time) – but the US sections were by far the largest.
Speaking of China…
This wasn’t an anomaly. Not much traffic at this end of the event, but judging by the mainland Chinese thirst for anything not “made in China,” it shouldn’t be a surprise. Nevertheless, I had some good conversations with a few folks, mainly from Hainan Island and sellers of local coconut-based products.
What? Baltimore-Washington International Airport had a booth?
Buffalo mozzarella, care of a few Italian-Californians. It was creamy, but lacked depth. The subtle textures provided an agreeable mouth feel…uhh, from where’d I pull those words? It’s food, not a study in Dadaism.
Cool. One of the spice vendors had this as its main display. I asked one of the folks if that was real saffron in the lower-left corner, to which he replied “YES.”
Indonesia had a presence, which was nice. Though, the snacks on offer were mostly fructose and peanuts where the shells had more flavor than the legumes themselves, but this booth had mango, rambutan and soursop honeys.
I really like these. But they’re sold all over the place, including many duty-free shops, so nothing happened here.
I grew up with these Italian crackers, known as taralli. Had no idea that sweet versions existed, and still don’t.
Maple shaved from cubes. One lick and your child will be awake for years. They served it alone and with bacon and bleu cheese. Good stuff, me thinks.
Hatch chiles from New Mexico. One of the employees was nice enough to start my souvenir sample collection with a jar.
You know you’re in a fancy food show bathroom when mint leaves make an appearance. Also, c’mon guys, don’t treat this bathroom like you would those at JFK.
You’re not supposed to take samples home. So I took them to an apartment instead.
Special mention goes to the extremely suspicious bag of Chinese dried vegetables in the lower-left, and to the “sample” of Korean toppokki sauce in the middle. Otherwise, the foods with labels were mostly agreeable and are almost all welcome to raid my wallet once again.
There’s more. Marzipan, cherries, Brazil nuts, lemon juice, pickled peppers, a guide to French cheeses, and olive oil? This set was made for me. JetBlue, I like the Terra products, but take a hint from here too.
Have you ever attended a food convention or trade show? If it was in New York, care to leave a detailed reply below?