If there is one thing I love about food, it’s that there are sooooo many possibilities. Human beings can eat almost everything on the planet and I’m all for enjoying the smorgasbord! I remember once I was training farmers in a village in Ghana on value addition. I was trying to get them to think of new ways to use the things they already had to generate revenue for their community. As we were discussing the crops they grew, they asked me had I ever eaten okra. I told them, yes. I had eaten fried okra when I was a child but that I really hated the slimy texture and it was never my thing. They looked at me aghast…”FRIED!”, they said. I said, yes. They were like, “it can be fried?” I was taken back. I thought to myself, you mean no one here ever tried to fry it? You have cooking oil, you have okra, no one ever experimented? I was beyond shocked.
Amongst the benefits of growing up in America is our love of new, our quest for exploring, and a social infrastructure that encourages creativity. Our edible artistry is definitely one of the starkest examples of that. In DC, we have an annual event called The Emporiyum where culinary artists come to show their newest creations and try to introduce them to consumers and retailers. It has come to be one of the things I look forward to every fall. This year, I had an especially phenomenal time. It was extra special because I had my Mommy with me and, let’s face it, everything is better with my Mommy there.
I grew up in NC and one thing that my hometown had in abundance was pecans. Every fall I would drown myself in fresh pecans I’d pick up in my grandma Queenie’s yard. I could spend the entire day cracking and eating, happy as could be. When I met Kay Holseberg, owner Molly and Me Pecans, I was so impressed with her story. I loved that she took her pastime of picking pecans with her dog, Molly, and turned it into a killer brand. Her pecans are all natural and gluten-free. Plus, they were so fresh, tasting them took me back to childhood. My favorite are the Bourbon pecans! YUM!!!
Another creative culinary treat that made my heart nearly stop was Stagg’s Sorrel Jam. Coming from a family who lives in the Caribbean, I’m quite familiar with hibiscus in the form of a super sweet, cold drink we call sorrel. I was so delighted when I came across Stagg’s Sorrel Jam. I had been trying to think of creative products people living in San Andres could do with the things we grew on the island. I’m a pretty creative person but making a jam from hibiscus never occurred to me. I immediately went straight for it and loved it from the first taste. I simply had to take a couple jars home with me. I now also use STAGG jam & marmalade as an example when talking with my people in San Andres about thinking outside the box and not wasting the resources we have at our fingertips.
Some people like to paint pictures, or do gardening, or build a boat in the basement. Other people get a tremendous pleasure out of the kitchen because cooking is just as creative and imaginative an activity as drawing, or wood carving, or music.
~ Julia Child
As any baker knows, eating the batter is half the fun. I definitely think so and I was tickled pink when I came across DŌ, Cookie Dough Confections. First, I was attracted to their brightly colored packaging and super cute logo. Being in the marketing arena, I always notice branding. I fell in love with the signature cookie dough but my Mom’s top choice was the sugar cookie. I think she liked the sprinkles on that one most of all. However, since they were both super yummy we took them both home. Again, we see here a company that has taken a family favorite and repackaged it in an innovative and creative way. Not to mention, you won’t get salmonella from eating this dough!
Food touches our lives in so many ways and it’s always wonderful when you can see so much of its significance in one place. The Emporiyum is a great example of how food, art, and business intersect to give us new and better ways to celebrate our taste buds while providing entrepreneurs a way to get their product out there and showcase their talents. I absolutely love this event. If you’re a foodie like me or just love to learn about new and creative products (like me) then I highly suggest you check it out. The next one is happening November 10-12, 2017.