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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

So Doku

It's late and I've put down a few of the local microbrew, so you'll have to excuse me for the alliterative title. I thought a brief rundown was in order as the 51st annual Fancy Food Show closed up shop yesterday afternoon. This is the second FFS that I have attended, and it felt markedly different from last year's - in fact, it was different from most other food conventions I have attended recently. Often times, a food show can quickly degenerate into a public feeding frenzy with cynical salesmen and hopeless producers caught in the mix. I felt this to be especially the case at last year's FFS (#50) and at the 2004 Salone del Gusto in Turin. While the array of products is impressive and the goal of matching producers and retailers noble, invariably samplers, grazers, moochers, and filchers sully the event with ruminant efficiency. By noon on the second day, most exhibitors have given up hope, if not on their displays as well.

At this year's show, there was a palpably new vibe in the air. Business was afoot - prices were quoted, exclusives were sought, deals were made. Even as exhibitors closed up shop and traded wares, the usual end-of-show swap meet was muted in intensity. Instead of the disingenuous pandering that bruises the enterprising nature of the show, salesmen were on the whole gentle and knowledgeable, and buyers were genuinely seeking the "next big thing".

This isn't to say that there wasn't an abundance of slobs, gimmicks, and hacks - this is inevitable. Roving samplers decimated displays, hardly knowing what they were shoveling into their mouths. Booths upped the ante this year by hiring more belly-dancers, off-hours strippers, and models to hawk their wares. One could hardly go 10 yards without being accosted by a flirtacious bimbo who no doubt couldn't spell the name of the product she was selling. And snake oil peddlers abounded as much or moreso than other years.

Stand-out products include: Brent's Beer Brittle, Ciao Bella Gelato, Luigi Guffanti Cheeses, Neal's Yard Dairy and 3D Cheese cheeses (specifically Jasper Hill's aged cloth-bound Cabot), and many others.

Fancy Food Show links:


whoMe? said...

Way to go pal! Excellent article.

Son T. Vu said...