This year I attended the 2011 International food and wine festival at the Baron Herzog winery. I had no idea what to expect. All I was told was to come with my appetite, that food would be a plenty and wine lessons would be given. (Not whine lessons, wine lessons.)There were stations all over the winery to sample the latest gourmet dishes and Kosher wines from every region of the world. Upon arriving I was given a small plate with one wine glass. I had a purse and came in with a coat. This was bad planning. For four hours I carried a plate with a wine glass, a purse, and a coat. (The whining had commenced.)
I was overwhelmed by the amount of food stations there were. I was astounded by the expensive ingredients served. I was sampling every red and white wine in the room. I ate eight hundred dollar truffles shaved on my fettucini that had a lemon zest and cilantro garnish. A spoonful of this deliciousness cost more than my child. Most importantly, I was carrying a very small, very teeny, very little plate. What does one do in this tenuous situation? Oh the stress, the pressure, the anxiety… How was I supposed to cope with a plate the size of a yarmulkah? How many samples are too many? Do I take three small servings of bite size goodness, and then get in line yet again for another helping? Do I just load the entire plate with every-single artichoke caviar potatoe latke, braised duck, and Indian chocolate truffle and call it a night? Is it dessert first, dinner second, dessert and dinner simultaneously? Where’s the handbook?
Do you know what it’s like to be a Jew while standing in a buffet line? I couldn’t decide if it was like being in a cafeteria in a Kibbutz or a rations line at a DP camp. The pushing, the shoving, the yentas complaining-
-”Oooh what’s that? Don’t eat that- I don’t like that…yich- Here try this…”
I felt like I was at a bar mitzvah with fourteen Bubbies and their sisters.
Questions raced through my mind. Where’s the Bar Mitzvah boy? Should I have brought a gift? Is it okay to take two tamales wrapped in lamb, since one small serving was smaller than the slice of carrot you put on gefilte fish? Us Jews are used to being served huge portions. I can still remember my first week of marriage, where I had one huge pot and made forty-seven servings of spaghetti.
There were two of us.
So much of this night was foreign to my inner compass. I had never been served such good food without a table, a waiter, or a menu before. I thought of different contraptions that would have made this evening a little easier. A wheelbarrow, a dolly, a doggy bag, a coatrack?
And then I finally made the decision. I didn’t care how trailer park I looked, I ate and sampled EVERY single station. At first I was a little timid. You know, I looked around, saw what other’s were doing, fancied their plates. Assessed the situation, and then I just went in for the kill. I didn’t care who was watching. (Of course the wine helped). I ate more fish, meat and chocolate than a gluttenous Queen on the night of her inauguration. I ate alright, and do you know what I also came to realize?
You can shove a lot more than you think on one teeny, tiny, little, iddy-biddy plate if you’re caring around a coat and a purse.
Here’s to seeing, swirling, sniffing, sipping, and savoring! (That’s wine language for us classy folk who aren’t afraid to load their food plates like professional hoarders.)
(No actual Bubbies were harmed during this buffet wine festival experiment. Reporters are still assessing the location of the Bar Mitzvah boy.)