Sunday, May 06, 2007

Gluttony at the Food Marketing Show

We've just spent a gloriously excessive day at this year's Food Marketing Institute tradeshow. Sure, it was a nice day outside and we could've spent it doing something healthy and active, but our friend, colleague and blog reader George Rafeedie gave us free passes to the show. So, being the foodies we are we really couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I've been to many a tradeshow in my b-to-b marketing days, but this was by far the biggest and best I've encountered. As we walked through the hall entrance our eyes grew large as a booth staffer immediately offered taquito bites and two flavors of margarita. Luckily we hadn't eat breakfast, which gave us all the more room in our stomachs to fill up on all the delights being generously handed out. George had tried to paint a picture of the amount of food we'd encounter, but I still wasn't prepared for the scale of all there was to eat. Kraft's booth was far and away the best: full-size hot dogs, grilled cheese made with their new premium cheese, CPK pizza, sauteed shrimp and tortilla wraps were just a few things we sampled. The Pillsbury section of the General Mills booth lured us with crustless PB&Js, 7-layer bars and Toll-House cookies. We kept moving through the bigger booths to the smaller ones in back where we found just as many samples including pad thai, fish cakes, beef jerky and pasta sauces galore. It was here that we encountered the worst thing we ate all day: peanut brittle made with overly smoky bacon. We passed through both the Miller and Bud booths without sampling, but if we'd wanted to we absolutely could have sat at the cocktail tables in either one and drank beer to our hearts content, all served by scantily clad female bartenders. Just when I thought I couldn't hold any more, I was tempted by some pomegranate and chocolate chip gelato that was truly amazing and managed to find room to stuff down a bit of Reese's new "Whipped" candy bar that has 40% less fat (oh, thank goodness, because we were really watching what we ate today).

We took a break and decided to cross into the next hall where our passes allowed us to enter the "Fancy Food Show." We soon realized we'd entered heaven, and that we surely should've started our day in this hall and not the other. In this hall we ate cheese, cheese and more cheese, not to mention countless salsas, mustards, sauces, crackers, jams and jellies. Wait, I forgot all the cookies, fudge, dried fruit and the petit fours I couldn't pass up. It all just looked so incredibly good. We even ran into a friend of a friend who operates a cheese importing company from Cincinnati, called Cheese from Britain, and enjoyed a cheddar bleu combination as well as an unbelievably good costwald. I know, it sounds like a lot of cheese. Not since the day in culinary school when I was forced to eat 23 cheeses in succession for a palate education class have I eaten so much cheese all at once. We went down one aisle to find the "Italian Marketplace" where there was the most amazing selection of olives and other antipasti I've ever seen. Despite feeling semi-nauseous at this point, I managed to scarf down enormous green olives stuffed with provolone and roquefort and salami stuffed with mozzarella. It was around this time that Peter turned to me and said, "I think I'm sweating." We were quite the sight, moaning and holding our stomachs in pain, yet pressing on down row after row. Did I mention the mango creme brulee and aloe water? We meandered back to the entrance by way of the produce section, amused by the machine that was cleaning and sorting potatoes, and another that cleaned lemons.

We left the fancy food show and took a short break in the space between the two halls, spreading out on the carpeted floor trying not to throw up. I was pretty much ready to leave at this point, but Peter got his second wind and despite my protests insisted we go back to the first hall. We were pickier our second time around but still managed to eat more pizza, some Diet Coke Plus (now, with vitamins and minerals!), Italian sausage, another crustless PB&J, and some of Campbell's new low sodium soup (to which my reaction was, 'this needs salt'). At this point I had really reached my limit and even Peter started to lose his ability to fill up on any more. So, with tired feet and uncomfortably full stomachs we made our way back to the car, vowing not to eat again all day.

Last week I entered our office's Biggest Loser weight loss challenge. Before today I was even starting to feel like I was maybe doing okay and possibly going to lose a pound or two by weigh in time tomorrow. But after today I think it's safe to say that the scale tomorrow will move in the opposite direction--maybe I can get a bye this week?


George Rafeedie said...

Wonderful write-up. Tomorrow I shall go to the show, then go to a Cubs game in a luxury suite. I'll hold off on the hot dogs at the Kraft booth so I may enjoy a frank at the old ball game.

Laura said...

Ew gross! That all was slightly nauseating! And a little bit perfect.