nyc food show: tastes, and trends

So yes, I loved the food show. Many samples, and many fascinating people to meet! So much so, that you have to have a plan to see everything, or you could get completely stuck. I suggest walking semi-continuously until you know you find something you really love. For example, be careful not to stop at every chocolate-covered-pretzel booth, or you could spend all four days at those alone! The place was semi-organized by country or state, with some countries being represented on two floors. One smaller floor had an area dedicated to natural and organic foods.
Let's go to Italy! I think I spent the most time there, not only because was it the largest section overall, but it was just so intriguing to watch the smartly clad Armani suits go about their business. Italians don't mess around here. They dress professionally, and are there to do some serious business. Everything is just a bit more discreet, no one trying to flag you down to taste their wares. There was everything you can think of from Italy: pastries, juice, olive oil, olives, fish, prosciutto, mortadella, sparkling waters, wine, pickled vegetables, coffee, pasta and on and on. My favourite tastes were from a very jovial gentleman from Sardinia with smoked fish, sea urchin, and bottarga. I was fortunate enough to try blue marlin, and tuna which were fantastic - a little sweet, a delicate texture, and not at all salty. But his translator emphasized that the best is swordfish. It was not just good, but fantastical! The texture was literally like butter, and just melted away into nothing. Very exquisite. I almost became hysterical when I ran into a booth representing the Giusti family of Modena, and their balsamico. Perhaps I was foaming at the mouth! My new goal in life is to eat at their 4 table only restaurant, in the back of a salumeria. I tried to get a reservation last summer, but they were closed the entire length of our three week trip. Sigh... I did get a little taste of what I believe was a fifty year old balsamic, which was like candy... I almost could have sworn that the gentleman said 150 years old, but now I'm not sure. Although, Giusti has been around since 1605, so who knows. Mind boggling either way. If you see Giusti vinegar, buy it! Delicioso! The other high point of the entire conference was Iberico ham from Spain. My goodness, it was everything I want to eat in a ham. It is cooked with a little fattiness around the edges, but is very, very sweet and juicy. The presentation was what attracted the crowds: a gentleman in a white coat, and gloves was cutting the giant ham on specific apparatus, and you took the piece of ham directly from him. I could have eaten the entire thing ham! Hopefully, soon I'll be able to enjoy it at home occasionally as the company has the proper documentation to be imported into Canada, so only time will tell. I know it is crazy to have foods shipped such a long distance, but maybe this way Canadians will be encouraged to create comparable, and unique products too! To me, this is still real food, and at least it isn't powdered junk, like so many other products which are shipped further distances... I think this is the company, and you can check out the very important slicing technique, Jamondul. Canada had some good representation, and I can't imagine how expensive it is to import goods from Canada. I had never even heard of or seen many of the products or companies represented. I never knew Dr. Oetker was a Canadian company, or Terra Nostra Organic Chocolate. Of course, there were representatives of maple syrup. But there seems like a lot of potential for growth here, with only 60 booths most of which weren't really food at all, but water or exporting companies. Not bad, considering we don't have that many people in comparison to nearly every other nation. The natural and organic pavilion was my least favourite as there were miles upon miles of booths dedicated to energy drinks and teas. It was all about marketing, with pretty little substance behind most products. Either there were teency models hawking energy drinks, or the opposite selling "healthy" cookies. It kind of made fun of the whole idea of organic, with excess packaging, plus all the shipping required to get an organic "cookie" or "puff" across thousands of miles. Besides which is really healthier, a non-organic apple, or an organic cookie? What about organic high-fibre macaroni and cheese? I think like many people, I like the idea of organic and "natural", but putting it in a package just doesn't really work. I think of organic as also good simple stuff, without it being overcomplicated. Then there were the food stands, simply for everyone's enjoyment! This meant...you never had to leave! I picked up a nice little selection of dishes from Egypt. There was a little falafel-like bite in a pita, bean stew, a wonderfully silky and tasty feta salad, and some nice olives. One other dish was described by the chef as a "phyllo-lasagna" and this was quite enjoyable too, certainly something I've never had before.

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