Sunday, November 14, 2010

Eat'n'style, Cologne/Köln

So, as I've mentioned, yesterday I went to the Eat'n'Style food exhibition in Cologne/Köln. The whole purpose of my going there was to see a couple of cooking exhibitions, just for a bit of fun. I saw Tim Mälzer and Alexander Hermann, to be precise: Hermann is most definitely the better cook, but Mälzer was the more natural presenter. Speaking of presenters, the guy who was MC and introduced the shows was terrible - too fake, too busy advertising for sponsors, and made exactly the same jokes before both shows. Clearly whoever scripted that wasn't thinking about repeat-audiences.

So, the event overall wasn't anything special, just your standard food show. Lots of companies with mixers and spatulas, spice mixes and wine. I had a sample of some new apple variety (which was clearly related to pink lady in both flavour and appearance, but with an aftertaste that I didn't like) and then made a beeline for a Swedish cider stall. That makes me sound like an alcoholic, but let me explain: my housemate gave me a brand-new umbrella because I'd lost mine, and she'd ended up with two after buying a new one before finding the old. She's an awesome housemate, and a lovely person, so I thought I'd get her something little as a thankyou. She loves Sweden (is learning Swedish at uni) and loves fruit. So I bought her a little bottle of gourmet pear cider. But, other than the cider stall (ok, I bought a bottle for me, too!) I wasn't into the idea of sampling things that I knew I wouldn't buy. I couldn't be bothered carrying wine back with me to Pb on the train, I make my own spice mixes, and lots of other products (charcuterie & cheese) not only weren't vegan, but smelled absolutely disgusting. So, I'm not the sort of person with much puchasing-power at these things. I'm not a good target-market. I'm there to steal ideas, not fork out my meagre cash for expensive products. ;)

So, I don't really want to talk about the dishes or the revolting amount of advertising. I want to talk about Tim Mälzer's show. He didn't cook anything special, and certainly nothing vegan. But he did stop to talk about the importance of sourcing food locally, and making sure that things are organic and free-range. I thought it was fantastic to hear a tv chef on stage talking about things that were important to me. I didn't catch every word, because he was speaking in German, but I was really pleased to hear it. And then...

He showed a PETA video. Seriously - blood and guts and dismembered animals shocking an auditorium of about a thousand people. There was one woman who left, holding her daughter in her arms (ok, definitely not appropriate for small children) but everyone else stayed, as far as I know. Guess what, people, you just found out where your food comes from. It was such a shock to see it in the middle of what was otherwise an ordinary, light-hearted cooking demonstration. I was really surprised, but afterwards, I was also pleased. The video was difficult to watch, but it reminded me of why I don't want to be a part of these food systems. I know it's value was lost on me, because I'm already vegan, but I hope it shocked other audience members enough to make a difference.

I waited for the train home, dry thanks to my new umbrella, cider bottles in my bag, in the Messe/Deutz station. I had an awesome book, Empires of Food and my ipod for entertainment, and the four-hour trip home ahead of me. I was hungry, tired, and oddly content.

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