By Emma Lundberg
Our welcome into the Moscone Center!
This weekend I had the privilege of attending the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade’s 37th Annual Fancy Food Show, an event that featured 80,000 gourmet food products from 1,700 vendors and 35 different countries. Attending the show was about 80,000 times more overwhelming than your average grocery store trip, but from this impeccable scope of gourmet fare, I gained a better understanding of what I might have been passing up on the grocery shelves back home.
The Fancy Food Show is an internationally-acclaimed venue where manufacturers and producers of gourmet food items go to mingle with various buyers, distributors and store owners. The whole spectacle reminded me of an ancient Roman marketplace in which individuals peddled their goods; except, instead of togas, the Fancy Food Show featured people wearing finely pressed suits, shined shoes and crisp shirts.
Amidst the jars of Indian spices and Asian sauces sat bottles of California olive oil and glass containers filled with candied pecans. As people cascaded through the aisles, I caught tidbits of foodie professionals’ conversations -discussing everything from olive cultivation techniques to risotto recipes. Wheels of cheese, cartons of dried fruit, platters of sausages, steaming rice cookers and jars of pickled vegetables covered the tables. Smiling vendors stood armed with napkins and information pamphlets ready to talk to potential customers.
International food companies also had a large presence at the show.
The Savor California section featured dozens of California-based companies.
While walking through the Fancy Food Show, sampling everything from coconut cheese to lavender chocolate, I searched for ingredients to mix up my usual rice-and-vegetable college-budget dinner. Lundberg wild rice, my favorite variety grown at Lundberg Family Farm’s Richvale fields, would go great with the season’s savory grains-quinoa and lentils. At one booth I discovered lentils and quinoa mixed into a grain salad, sprinkled with parsley, lemon zest and finely chopped tomatoes. The woody flavor of lentils, offset by the natural pop of quinoa and rice would make any winter salad-cold or hot-a filling, healthy dinner option.
Aside from salads, lentils were also making a guest appearance in snack food items as well. At Simply 7 Snacks, the Sea Salt Lentil Chips begged to be dipped in hummus for a satisfying, earthy crunch. My most surprising discovery was a few booths later at Turbana’s stand, which featured Plantain chips made from bananas and flavored with lime, chili and garlic. I noted that the variety of hummus, artichoke dips and soft cheeses available at the show would work well with any of these crunchy chips for a great lazy Saturday snack.
Look who we found! My Dad, Grant Lundberg and Great Uncle Homer Lundberg chat at the show.
As I continued to meander through the show, I stumbled upon my uncle, Homer Lundberg, founder of Lundberg Family Farms. I asked him if the Fancy Food Show had given him any good ideas for innovative ways to enjoy Lundberg products. He smiled and suggested substituting crumbled Lundberg Family Farms Organic Brown Rice Cakes for popcorn, a modern snack that could be served sweet or savory. Sprinkled with nutritional yeast and salt, crumbled rice cakes would make for a great on-the-go snack, but combined with Greek yogurt, a drizzle of Lundberg Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup and fresh blueberries, rice cakes could also function as a new twist on the no-fuss granola-based breakfast.
As I left the Fancy Food Show, I couldn’t wait to get back to my own less-overwhelming grocery store and try out some of these fantastic new gourmet products.