Why I don’t like tasting
- Friday, 03 June 2011
I briefly hit the Pebble Beach Food and Wine event at the end of April (wow, I know, this post is amazingly late!). As I ran into colleagues and confessed that I hate tasting events, I was asked again and again, “why?”
While this may be shocking to people, I did not go into food writing because I like to wander around giant tents, convention halls, or hotel ballrooms eating bite-size portions of stone crab tamale with mango foam and drinking two-sip servings of wine.
I went into food writing primarily because I like to write. I also like to cook and I like to eat. I prefer to eat sitting down, surrounded by friends and family and the fine conversation that tends to follow. Remove the social element or an authentic context (I’m using “authentic” to denote a context that has some life and history to it since I am well aware that even a tasting event in a hotel ballroom is a context, it just happens not to be a context I value or want much of a part of) from food and my interest plummets. Quickly.
And wine? I would chose a full pour of something tasty I could sip while engaged in riveting or even just interesting conversation over six of anything I had to evaluate while standing at a folding table and being talked at by the winery’s director of marketing. Anything.
That said, I was amused that as teeny rabbit tamales and the aforementioned stone crab tamales (there, that’s my reporting from the event—chefs with a ton of servings to make ahead and serve to the masses have figured out what abuelas in my neighborhood have known for generations: the answer is tamales) were being doled out by chefs who seemed very earnest about their role in the Grand Tasting Tent (ugh, is the word “grand” a total flashing red light to anyone else? it’s like the classy, understated version of “classy”), the masses there to taste were busy lining up 40-deep to get a handful of the roasted lamb Tom Colicchio was meting out.
I believe at some point the roasted lamb was part of a dish or sandwich or something (there was no way of knowing because Tom, unlike the other chefs, did not bother to put the name of the dish he was serving on his sign), but after about an hour into the tasting the crowd’s insatiable demand for food Tom had touched meant the other ingredients had been run through and only the lamb was left. Lamb that had been, I should note, beautifully roasted and perfectly seasoned, but still simple roasted lamb. The people stayed in that line. They waited for...