When the taxi dropped me off in front of the ExpoCoruña convention center for the first day of the Fórum Gastronómico, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I had been to other food and wine events in Galicia: lots of festivals celebrating everything from boiled octopus to, and I mean this quite literally, chestnuts roasting on an open fire. But everything up to that point had a sort of rustic charm to it, which I’ve never complained about and never will, because I find it all delightful, and more importantly, the food is always out of this world good at those events, but it also made me think that this Forum would be more of the same.
I was wrong.
You guys, I was really, horribly mistaken. The Forum was pure culinary sophistication. Well-organized, well-educated people sharing the best food and Galicia and Spain have to offer in a sparkling new building.
Susan met me at the gate, gave me my exhibitor’s pass (great design, by the way)
Photograph Fórum Logo: Fórum Gastronómic.com
and escorted me through the entrance into a magical fairy tale land of vendors GIVING AWAY everything from organic ice cream to craft beer. I’m pretty sure I just kept repeating “No me lo puedo creer” (“I can’t believe it”) as we rushed by stand after stand on the way to the Bo Camiño space near the back (Did I mention I arrived late? Whoops. That meant that I went directly past go and did NOT collect my metaphorical 200 dollars that first day).
To cover the entire Forum I would need more than two blog entries (and a much bigger vocabulary), so what I’m doing instead is focusing on our little corner of the Forum universe and the stands that surrounded us. It is, in itself, a microcosm of the entire event, and I think is a better reflection of its true spirit: people coming together out of nothing to form close relationships with their neighbors.
So, Cris, Susan, and a little help from German, had all worked through the night to make sure that we made the most of our small space, and the stand reflected that. Lots of bright, vibrant colors, plus a huge photo call of the 6th century Samos Monastery, made it—in my totally unbiased opinion—a very welcoming place to be. It also helped that to our right was Habelas Hailas liqueurs, offering tastings of their new flavors like crema de mandarina (it tastes exactly like an Orange Dreamsicle, but you know, grown up) with candy pairings (an idea after my own heart—I’ve spent the past 2 years telling people that pairing sour candy with Albariño wine is my jam, but no one seemed to listen until now!).
Photograph: Habelas Hailas Licores (Facebook page)
Lest you think we survived solely on liqueur and candy, fear not, for our diets were balanced out by wine from Adegas galegas, the leading exporters of Galician wine to the US, who were generous with their pours (I would imagine they gave us, on average, 4 glasses each every day) and their expertise in the complex field exports. Lovely people.
And ham. So much ham. We happened to have, to our left, the stand for Extremadura’s tourism and culinary board, who fortunately for us employed a talented jamonero (yes, only in Spain is there a profession for those who want to carve jamón ibérico, which don’t be fooled, is actually quite difficult to do right) and directly in front of them, the stand for the spectacular jamón de bellota (which is like no ham you’ve ever had. Melts in your mouth good. A leg can be yours for the low price of 600 euros). These two jamoneros prepared plate after plate of thinly sliced ham, in exchange for us running to the Estrella Galicia booth to work our feminine wiles and cut through the long lines that they would otherwise have to wait in for a free beer. It was an excellent trade, and always good to know that some things stay the same no matter where you go.
Photograph: Susan R. Mann
So that, in a nutshell, is what the Forum was about for me. Generosity, reciprocity and collaboration: the basis of all things Bo Camiño as well. Because to do what you love with like-minded people? I can’t think of anything better.
– Stacy Lutsch
For more information please visit Habelas Hailas Licores: http://www.habelashailaslicores.com – https://www.facebook.com/habelashailaslicores
For more information please visit Fórum Gastronómic: http://www.forumgastronomic.com and https://www.facebook.com/forumgastronomic
Fórum Gastronómic Photograph Blog Introduction: German Limeres