When I was younger I would regularly attend Grateful Dead shows, The Glastonbury Fest, Lollapalooza, the Oregon Country Faire, and the like (this was pre-Burning Man). At the end of each of these festivals, I would head back to reality wiping away tears, sweat and grime, stunned by the thundering display of humanity and spirit present during the gathering of so many souls. Speaking generally, a fair bit of mood-heightening substances would likely have been consumed over the course of several days, which helps to splay the psyche and let crude emotions come pouring in. Rejoining with reality felt like spluttering through the stratosphere then crashing into the atmosphere without a parachute. No amount of arm-flapping could protect me from the splintered thwack of contact with unyielding earth. The International Food Bloggers Conference was much the same, but without the drugs and rock and roll. (There was plenty of sex. Food bloggers have DIRTY minds, as you’ll see if you follow the #IFBC hashtag running commentary of the conference on twitter.)
I am trying to cull my thoughts into a cohesive stream of information that might be useful for my readers, but I feel like a saturated band-aid has been ripped off a still-seeping gash. There was so much information to parse, my brain is spinning like a cpu looking for various nooks and crannies in which to store chestnuts of data. The best part about the conference was not the speakers. It was not the questionable temperature control, the wrapped mints and urine cakes in the glamified porta-potties, it was not even the food. The single-most powerful thing about attending IFBC was the glorious mind-meld that inevitably takes place when over 300 (aspiring and actualized) industry leaders from a burgeoning field come together to eat, drink and be merry. The sum of every individual was raised to the highest common denominator of our parts. We were all able to surreptitiously bask in the “picture-making” sepia glow of what it might be like to be Penny De Los Santos, if only for a too-brief, visually orgasmic slide presentation. We all felt the collective heave of wrenching back what is right from The Man when Robin Goldstein successfully wrestled the ethical golden ticket away from Robert Schroeder of the Federal Trade Commission with only the use of his skillful silver tongue and the cerebral heft behind his words. After so many displays of awesome talent, I am left nearly bereft of words, and those are the things I always have in abundance. Five second pacts over tamales and Kilt-lifter cemented friendships for life, leaving me simultaneously gnashing at the bit to make a masterpiece with my words, lens, hands, and high heels, and also just a little bit verklempt- overcome by the utterly-endowed group of brilliant individuals.
Vignettes. Shauna from Gluten Free Girl made everyone feel extra special when she invited the lot of us to sample a berry crumble she had made along with her husband from berries gathered outside their Vashon doorstep on a dewy, late-summer morning. Chef John from Food Wishes let me in on a brilliant upcoming post idea he has involving twitter streams-of-consciousness, whilst we drank sherry after sherry from cups we stacked end to end as though we were at a keg party. I played hookie with some cool kids like Michael Natkin and Georgia Pellegrini during lunch, wherein we traipsed over to the bar-formerly-known-as-The-Triangle and downed drinks brought to us by none other than Captain Jack Sparrow. A speaker took the stage at the first moment they started to project the live twitter stream for all to see in the front of the room. The first tweet to hit the screen: This speaker moonlights as a phone-sex operator. Written by Yours Truly, projected by accident, prompting gales of laughter much to the confusion of the speaker, totally unbeknownst to me that it would be there for all to see. I sheepishly hunkered down in my seat, and they quickly removed the feed. Nathan Myhrvold, author of the upcoming, controversial, exhaustive tome, Modernist Cuisine, won my heart as he completely geeked out during his presentation on all things sous vide, foam, gel, and Maillard. He showed us how he cuts things like Le Creuset dutch ovens and Weber Grills in half to get his remarkable images, as well as throwing in some gratuitious shots of slo-mo popcorn popping and wine glass shattering. Incidentally, the price of the book (which oscillates from the high $400 to the mid $600 range on Amazon) does not seem outlandish to me considering that the Oxford English Dictionary sells frequently and historically for $1000, and with that you don’t get images or recipes.
The sheer strength of social media and the realization that I am entrenched in that- a little fava in a big pod- brought out an unparalleled evocative emotional response in me. Collectively, we have the power to incite food revolutions, get generations back in the kitchen, and knock-back an impressive amount of wine while we’re doing it. I cracked jokes and made light of issues with the best of them (I’m looking at you, Seattle Food Geek and Chef Reinvented) but inside, a little ember of surging possibility kept me warm with a surefire, confident knowledge that the future is indeed, very bright.