Eating during NRA week is an adventure. The show is buzzing over the Tweet that said, “Dude, I just saw a CIA chef eating a Big Mac.”
Everyone thinks food professionals have an inate sense about food that leads them to the best places – ones that are sophisticated, upscale, smart. Truth is, trained palates are sometimes set aside in favor of simply eating. Because at this conference, while food is the priority there isn’t a lot of time to eat it.
The pace of the conference usually means erratic meals, if any. And while foodies do like to find the latest trends – and listen in on anyone’s conversation if it’s about a great meal – this year’s recommendations are all about brew pubs and hearty food joints instead of about elegant linen tablecloth fine dining. In other words, foodies truly do not have a snobbish attitude about it all. To us, food is food, and every bite carries an adventure and a story.
My team’s eating habits are probably reflective of most. The die hard breakfast people – the ones who swear by a healthy start – are up early to eat oatmeal with bananas and dry toast. Most skip breakfast in exchange for sleep, after keeping hours normally only seen by procrastinating college students.
Our lunch consists of a stop at Nathan’s Hot Dog display in the exhibition hall (or any one of hundreds of other choices, most with lines like the one pictured here), gulped down with a Coke slurpee or a sample espresso, chased by a sample of sushi and completed with a flight of chocolates (like those sampled at the French Pastry School, pictured left).
Sustenance around dinner time comes from breaking out the sample products for quick reviews, while we work bent over our Macs. Around 9 p.m. we look up, blink, and remember that one of our chefs made a reservation at – yes – the latest trendy place. So, sleep not yet making it to the priority list, we go.
We read the menu to each other, like sharing passages from a favorite book. We carefully check what everyone else is ordering to make sure we don’t duplicate – because that would be the mortal sin. How can we possible taste everything on the menu if we duplicate!
When the plates come, we take one bite and pass it around, careful of sharing germs to a point, but giving up on the items that are tougher to split, figuring we are family by now anyway. And as the food disappears, the stories get better and the relationship deepen. The shared meal takes us one step further into dependency on each other.
And this, my friend, is how true foodies develop their sense of food. Like everything else in life, it’s about living the experience.
Back to the show . . . today is the all-candy exhibition. I’m in serious trouble . . .