A remarkably talented array of bakers, foragers, jam makers and more got together yesterday, May 22nd, to trade what they'd made at the second edition of the LA Food Swap, this time at ReForm School in Silverlake. Founder Emily Ho started the LA edition of this food-as-currency event after being inspired by similar swaps in Seattle and Brooklyn. The next local Food Swap will be in Pasadena on June 26th.
A food swap is designed for everyone making things like brined nasturtium buds, Thai herb soda base and vegan raspberry jam cookies (um, if somebody wants to email us the recipe?), but isn't launching a business or looking to make money off of their wares. Participants bring a few jars, bottles or bags of what they created and offer it for trade. Yes, there are some aspiring professionals in the mix — and they are not discouraged — but the majority are just passionate home cooks.
A limited number of swappers can sign up via the website. They then show up on the appointed date with something they made or foraged. Everyone is encouraged to bring samples as well, so there's lots to eat. For the first hour participants mingle, taste, chat and decide what they can't leave without. Then, somebody rings a bell and everyone trades one-for-one with other participants.
LA Food Swap really is like stumbling across a collective of smiling neighbors who want not much more than to feed you from their chic-ly packaged pantry and to take a peek in to yours. It's just nice.
This Sunday, items ranged from freshly churned butter with the best loaf of bread we have tried this side of France; the densest most rewarding chocolate chip cookies imaginable and unique creations like a fragrant oregano jelly, snickerdoodle mini-muffins and a cordial made from foraged elderflowers. As a Master Food Preserver it was a thrill to hear the brilliant woman behind the bread and butter onion relish (that we already polished off) talk passionately about proper pressure canning techniques, too.
One woman was swapping s'mores kits replete with her sticky marshmallow cubes and a sugared graham cracker that could handily put Honey Maid out of business — but pose no threat because they aren't for sale. She just wants to give them to you. That's the beauty of this idea: you just sign up, bring something and look for someone with something brilliant that they want to trade.
With so many large for-profit local foods events going on around town this meet, greet and eat is a charming, refreshing alternative. Follow on Facebook for updates on the next meet up, or contact Emily to find out how to start your own version.