For a number of years, I’ve attended the locally held Americas Food and Beverage Show and Conference. Right now, the 23rd year of largest Americas-focused food and beverage trade show in the Western Hemisphere is hosting 400-some exhibitors. I’ve attended in the past as a folklorist who pursues food history and observed, tasted samples, and brought home cool tote bags among other swag. This year, with CreativelyAnnette fully launched, I decided to write … here goes. As usual it was a fun few hours of tasting and of learning.
One large hall of our city’s convention center (newly updated with lots of public art) was filled with vendor displays including new produce showcases and space for Seminars. A number of pavilions were advertised, from Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, France, South Africa, Thailand, and the good old USA.
This show is made up of food manufacturers, distributers, shippers and more such as chef shoes and clothes. Some familiar names like Bob’s Red Mill, Roland’s, and Flora, a favorite of mine which makes Italian specialties are here. Food wise, there were lots of chips, crackers, and snacks and frozen yogurt and ice cream bars in tropical flavors, lots of meat products, too, and meat alternatives – many with samples. Also drinks – super infused water, juices from different parts of the world, teas and coffees (I’ll enjoy the rooibos samples), and fruit purees. The relative lack of so-called energy drinks was a pleasant surprise. In past years numerous vendors were there marketing this stuff. What I also missed the North African vendors with varieties of dates and also the Korean vendors.
Of note were two women-run businesses – you go girls:
Khayelitsha Cookies (https://kcco.co.za/) is a South African baking company which employs previously unemployed ladies. They are trained to bake and pack their delicious cookies. Of course, I returned to my miracle diet last week, so I did not sample, but I brought 2 bags home for my husband to enjoy.
Yummies by Kai Sage (YummiesbyKS.com) is an American company of gluten free baked goods. Because of a health issue, the founder adopted what she calls a gluten free lifestyle. Her health was more important than the Sunday breakfast pancakes and waffles, pizza, sandwiches and cakes and cookies and she made the change. Her health issues were resolved (read the website, it’s inspiring) and her company was born.
New or interesting vendors included a handful of food companies from the Congo Brazzaville – who would have known. One had a product made with typical Congolese fruits, tondolo, malombo, and ntsuiteke, unknown here. Agri Deck Congo showed jams and more (www.agrideckcongo.com). Other vendors from Africa were many South Africans and a few from Nigeria and Ethiopia.
Other pavilions or vendors of note were the Brazilians. Who know that rice is grown in Brazil? Of course, they had samples of chipas and cheese bread and acai, nuts, teas, and coffee, and wines.
The Canadians showed a great variety of products from maple syrup and candy to smoked herring and salted fish. Grizzly Smokehouse, Quebec offered samples of their superlative salmon including salmon and tuna tartar. Northfork Canadian Bison Ranch, Quebec was giving tastes of their bison burgers, something we enjoy in our home. Isn’t Northfork the name of the ranch of the old Dallas tv show, no that’s Southfork!
Exotic France seemed to be an effort from Guadeloupe. Among other products, they showed local vanilla, something the island is noted for along with being the filming site of the PBS favorite, Death in Paradise.
Other booths included Jamaica with samples of instant ginger tea. There were several displays from Turkey. One, Eyup Sultan since 1961, had Turkish delight, a childhood favorite. Their rose petal loukum is among the best.
The USA Pavilion featured some state booths and other vendors. I had to try the Hatch chile wine at the New Mexico booth. Hatch chiles, special to New Mexico, are spreading nationwide. Actually, the night before the show, I used hatches in our dinner! There were Idaho onions, Michigan potatoes and apples. I learned that Michigan is the 3rd largest apple grower in the US. The Blue Crab Bay Co. from Virginia showed crab products alongside their special majolica stoneware designed by Jose Dovis.
A number of vendors (Kontos, Olympia and others) had Greek-style food and gave gyro samples. I noted that many of the prepared foods like these were really salty, a part of the preservation needs, but not so healthy. And a few Native American producers were represented. O-Gah-ah Coffee (Quapawcoffee.com) is a product of the small Quapaw Nation in the northeast corner of Oklahoma.
Swag at this show is included some samples, like Bob’s Red Mill granola, Jamaican hot sauce, and reusable tote bags. Food tastings, too. Here’s some of what I tried?
From Guadalupe, the fish fritters and spicy sauces.
Ruby Boy Smoked seafood had salmon candy, which I’d previously sampled at Seattle’s Pike Place Market) and a good, meaty smoked salmon.
From Maine, Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections had chocolate covered espresso beans and more.
I went off the food plan when offered a savory macaroon, two macaroon discs over a camembert crème. Very good.
Among the very best and noteworthy:
The Blackberry oyster from the Little Wicomico Oyster Co, Virginia (https://www.lwoysters.com/family). It was fresh and sweet.
The bison breakfast sausage and lamb chops from Colorado-based Frontiere Natural Meats (https://frontierenaturalmeats.com/).
Duck bacon from Maple Leaf Farms from northern Indiana was so much better than the neighboring Butterball bacon. There is someting about that duck fat. This company prepares Halal duck .
I came away satisfied and with lots of ideas for more cooking.