This blog post started with a dream I had earlier this week. It was a wonderful, beautiful, almost perfect dream; one of those ones that you’re genuinely disappointed to wake up from as you know it could never actually happen in real life. I dreamt that I found a Tesco supermarket in Vancouver. I was skipping gaily down the meat aisles, frolicking among the fruits and vegetables, and crying tears of pure joy in the cheese section. I couldn’t believe my luck that cheap groceries had finally landed in the City of Glass. Alas, just a dream it was; I woke up to a world where paying $2.29 for a tin of tomatoes is par for the course. And yes, I’m still going on about the tins of tomatoes. My week improved after I attended a BBQ organized by a lactose-intolerant host, and I left with a sizeable ziploc bag of cheese-based leftovers. Now that’s what I’m talking about. The final straw was when I spontaneously decided to visit Eat! Vancouver, Canada’s largest food and cooking show. Two hours after arriving I was unpleasantly full on samples of greek yoghurt, maple smoked salmon and grapeseed breads, weighed down with purchases of fudge, caramel apples and chocolate cake lollipops and determined to write this post about the diverse aspects of the cult of food in Vancouver.
I’ve already hinted at the amazingness of Eat! Vancouver, so I thought I’d start with this bit first. 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the three day festival, which was held in the newly renovated BC Place stadium. The best way I can describe it is the Canadian version of the BBC Good Food Show. It’s part convention, part cooking lesson, part TV show, part free samples, part beer garden and part dinner.
All of the above sounded great, but what I was really going for was the free samples. I was particularly excited to be given a plastic carrier bag on arrival which contained a chocolate bar, granola bar, sachet of coffee and a bottle of hot sauce. That’s four take-aways bagged before I even entered the arena. Some stands were handing out samples to coax guests into buying their products, whereas others were offering no-strings free tastes solely to raise awareness. My favourites included McDonalds fruit smoothies (who knew?), some beautiful fresh green pesto, and a delicious roasted pine nuts flavoured hummus. It wasn’t all freebies though, and I did succumb to purchasing some treats for the weekend. I simply couldn’t turn down the local fudge producer (who was also selling chocolate caramel apples) or the pretty pink boutique cake lollipop stand. I’m still not 100% sure that the $16 ticket price (at the door) was entirely worth it for me, but it was definitely an enjoyable afternoon. I obviously wasn’t the only one to think so, as an estimated 40,000 fellow foodies attended over the three-day weekend.