Dear Cheap Ethnic Eaters,

Here are my final thoughts from this year´s food show in Montreal.

On the last day, I started off in the equipment section — but only because I hadn´t seen much of it previously. This area was full of shelving, refrigerators, assembly line machinery, and other spacious displays. Food for the mind – but not the body. I scurried back to the food stations without delay.

I didn´t find many new things to taste (or photograph) this day, so I went back and revisited some of my favorites from the previous two days. Even though I had a map and I had poured over it the night before, it wasn´t always easy to find a booth again after visiting it. Getting “lost” became part of the fun. And I got to nibble on more cookies, more chocolate, more cold cuts, and at least three kinds of gnocchi (potato based) pasta while making my way around the
show floor.

I´ve come home with an amazing variety of tea bags. Tea is one of the world´s most popular beverages: black tea, green tea, herbal tea, traditional flavors and different blends. Some of the flavors are organic and/or fair trade certified. All the ones I picked up smell wonderful, I´ve already tried the lemon ginger tea (great on a sore throat) and I can´t wait to try more. One tea was a disappointment though: Red tea from Austria, premixed and served cool, was bitter and unpleasant to drink.

Two other great beverages I tasted are made right here in Canada. Hibiscus juice is refreshing and perfumey. I could imagine drinking this icy cold on a boiling hot day. Maple-blueberry liqueur comes from the same place that makes honey wine (mead) – it´s sweet and syrupy. Maple liqueur without the blueberries is great too! I´ve been told it goes great in coffee with a little 10% cream.

I was disappointed that I couldn´t bring home more samples of olive oil. In previous years, there were plenty of tiny bottles and single-serve packets. This year, only one olive oil and one flavored avocado oil came in bottles or packets to take home. For me it´s difficult to judge oil just by wetting bread with it, especially as I don´t use olive oil as a dinner-table condiment. I
would rather cook with it to judge its flavor.

Overall it was a really good show, and it´s difficult for me to pick a favorite booth. There were so many great things to see and taste, and even to bring home and try later. For my first chili cook-off coming up in September, I was able to glean a few ideas at different booths. I also get to put my thinking cap on in the next couple of months – what DOES one cook with baby figs, brown wild rice pilaf, and ground roasted soy nuts? (not all in the same recipe) Add a handful of industry journals from the goodie bag, and the memories of SIAL will last for months. I´m looking forward to next year´s installment already!

Rosemary Warren

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The chocolate sculpture is from Cacao Barry of France. Consider how much taller the headpiece is, over the booth worker

“hot stuff” illustrates some of the spicier goodies I acquired, mostly in the last day. Every culture has something hot and peppery to burn your mouth with! The red pepper in the front is plastic, though.

A selection of teabags (and a little coffee), most picked up the same day.