Salon International de l'Alimentation

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Originally uploaded by nardac.
Today, thanks to the Scoobs, managed to get into the International Exposition for Food Products, located just outside of Paris. In a giant commercial complex just south of the airport in Roissy, set amongst several kilometers of warehouse space, were hundreds of stands from all around the world, showing off their food products.

For those who don't already know, besides being the Nardac, my other nickname as often been "the stomach." I've been known to scream with pleasure over a great raw sea urchin, or shriek with anger at an overcooked fish. Led by my trusty sense of hunger, and overbearing need to appease my tastebuds, I've led my life of degustation in all countries and with all cuisines. Yes, I'm a food whore.

So this kind of thing is like Christmas...x10!!!.

I got there a little late, because I'd waited too long to cook my lunch and slaved over two very sweet little dorades for over an hour (dorade cooked in the oven with onions, garlic, tomatoes, fresh fennel, curry and thyme.)

The first few steps inside were quite disappointing. I mean, the stands tend to be quite industrial, with lots of pamplets, fancy lighting, and things hidden behind glass cases. In the Middle East, especially, you have your fair number of dried lentils and cereals, things that need to be cooked, and thus, no samples. But, burrowing deeper, I turned off from the Middle East and headed straight into Asia. Yay Asia, ancient motherland and place of fearless tastebuds and endless stomachs.

Got a quick sip in at a Thai stand that was showing off their new packaged teas, thai teas, iced coffee. Not bad, snagged some samples. Then turned off into, yup, Singapore, where gobbled down some curried beef with rice, made from a package. Then found a wacky sauce made of coffee. OK, you Singapore people, tell me if you know about coffee sauce because, frankly, I've never heard of it in my life and my family's obsessed with food. I tried to ask her if it was traditional and something used often in cuisine...and she said "yes yes of course." Right. So I asked, with what kinds of food would you cook this with. "Pork. You want taste some? Have sample LAH." Gag...I totally miss those fucking LAHs. So she whipped up a little sample, and gosh darnit, was sooo good. It's like spicy ribs with hoisin sauce, but something nuttier in the background. Good work guys!

Then, headed off to my next favourite place to munch in the world, JAPAN. There was some very great sashimi, a type of hamachi, from Burimi. Gobbled up quite a bit of that. Then, also managed to taste some great chicken teriyaki, spicy beef tripe shish-kebabs, and grilled unagi. On the way out of that area, fell into fancy tea tasting. There was green tea, and grilled green tea, and gosh darnit, so much else... The guy was so impressed with my designer glasses that I received a week's worth of tea samples.

Heading out of there, stumbled upon a funny stand with canned aloe vera. Besides being good for your skin, this stuff is fantastic canned with a little bit of syrup. A very light subtle taste and tiny crunch.

Then, while getting lost, fell into the laps of those darned Thais again. But this time there was a great little chef in action and he whipped up some pad thai, beef in tamarind-like sauce, pineapples with green pepper and green papaya salad. Holy moly...starting to count how many tiny plastic cups and forks I went through and realize I'm killing the universe. But really happy I decided not to wear a belt with my pants.

Got trapped at a Buddhist vegetarian stall where tasted the usual bunch of vegetarian know, faux turkey, faux burgers, faux chicken, faux duck. And finally, he served me these new soy burgers he's been working on. A mixture of gluten, soya, peas, carrots, corn, soy and water chestnuts. These things are so want one, you want another. So he gave me a whole package worth. (When I got home, I cooked them up, ate it with ketchup, and fell off my chair ...explanation of picture).

Stopped by the Canadian stand where they were serving maple syrup liquer, which I never even knew existed. This is good stuff. Very mild, with a soft taste characteristic of maple syrup, slightly smoky, and a tiny licking of liquer at the end. Chilled in a tiny tumbler, this could be a good substitute for cognac.

Then the expo closed down to the public. Found the Scoobs, who was just finishing up at the Turkey stand, where she works. I thought that was the end of the day...but NO! The party starts when everyone leaves. That's when the guys go gangbusters with the alcohol. Drank Argentinian wine, Dutch wine, a little punch from the Martinique, and nibbled on some very excellent jerk-like chicken thighs from Senegal. Got hammered in under 15 minutes.

Scoobs scored a shitload of olive oil, pulses, dried apricots, and spices. I'm getting a care package in a couple of days.

This is not the end though. This exposition will last till Thursday, and Scoobs, who's a veteran at this thing, told me to come Thursday afternoon with a big bag. Before the closing, all the stands try to get rid of as much produce as possible. So it's free food just have to ask. I know where I am going. I just hope I'll have enough space to score all those truffles and charcuterie that's promised from the frenchies (as well as plenty of frozen fish and tea). Just sad I've missed the oyster tasting contest.

Ok...enough. Ã table!!!