Imagine a place where food is your currency, where things like homemade Irish soda bread made with whole wheat and kefir or house-conched 75% chocolate bars are just as good as dollars and credit cards. Well, join a freaking food swap and watch your anti-consumerist wishes come true.
A group of about 15 people, including full families and sugar-hyped small children, showed up at a private residence along The Shops on Lake Avenue area of Pasadena yesterday with one thing in common: DIY food. Everyone had baked, cooked, curdled and packaged something laborious, to be swapped with another labor-intensive item of equal or lesser value. Everyone went home with at least breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next day.
Despite the last-minute change of venue due to the severe Southern California storm conditions (which scared off about 15 or so other registered participants), the event proved to be fruitful — with lots of sweet and savory goodies.
The event felt like any other food event at first, with cooks and bakers showing up minutes before and setting up their tables to showcase their stuff. The set-up was not that different than that of a silent auction, as attendees went around signing each other's slips making offers like “Rose/4 bags biscotti” for whatever food they wanted most.
A freshly rendered pumpkin seed-pine nut Pipian simmer sauce; locally conched and tempered chocolate in the shape of little bunnies; a house-curdled ricotta cheese; and a super-moist Irish soda bread with apricot preserves were among the swap's most wanted.
Based on this event and other similar events happening around the city of the same DIY nature (the Secret Fork, the Gastronome Gallery, the Cottage Food Bill), it seems there's a small revolution taking place in the kitchens of Angelenos citywide. A few attendees even traveled from Santa Monica (!) in the hope of scoring unique foods that can't be found on any market shelf or restaurant menu.
Los Angeles may not be Portland or San Francisco, but the artisan food community is alive and canning well. For more information on how you can join in on the food swinging fun, check out the Pasadena Food Swap website or check out the larger-scale Los Angeles Food Swap next time it comes around.
Follow Javier Cabral on Twitter at @theglutster.