“I don’t want to go!“
It’s 6:30am on Saturday morning and my alarm went off 20 minutes ago, and there was no part of getting out of bed that was appealing to me.
“How bad would it be to just not show up?“
Phil and I had agreed months ago to volunteer for Eat Alberta - a local-food lover’s event – and, while it seemed like a good idea at the time, I just wanted to go back to sleep.
It was going to be an over 10 hour day, filled with food-related presentations, meeting/chatting with fellow foodies, making/tasting artisan food and it would all end with wine. I was expected to set up and clean/tear down the event, talk in front of strangers, and spend most of my Saturday without my Husband by my side.
And at 6:30am that morning, I wanted no part of it.
“I think you should text Su and tell her that I came down with a sudden, particularly virulent strain of the flesh-eating bacteria!“
But, finally, my sense of responsibility kicked in and I dragged my whiny ass out of bed.
And I am SO GLAD I did!
Phil and I volunteer at a lot of events, and this was probably one of the best we have ever been a part of – it was a long day, to be sure (most volunteer “shifts” for other events are 3-4 hours), but the day went so fast, and it was packed with so much fun that the 10 hours flew by quicker than most 3 hour shifts we have worked at other events.
And, as volunteers, we were encouraged to partake in all the event had to offer – we got to eat the same food, at the same time as the participants, we got to attend the presentations and, in addition to the 2 classes we were assisting in, we got to attend one as a participant.
And did I mention we even got wine?
There were classes to make cheese, sausage, bread, pasta or macarons. There were tasting classes for cheese, beer or wine. There was classes to learn how to cook rabbit or bison, and to preserve fruits and vegetables. There was even a class to brush up on your knife skills.
Luckily, the day was spent shoulder to shoulder with fellow food-happy folks, many of whom I
stalk follow on Twitter, so I was so busy meeting and reconnecting with great people I barely had time to miss Phil when we were in separate classes.
The key note speakers talked about their conscientious farming (they actually move the chicken and pig pens twice/day so the animals always have access to fresh grass and aren’t wallowing in their own feces). And there was a panel on how to survive a zombie apocalypse – this event had everything (I think there may have even been wine)!
But the highlights of my day were the sausage-making class and the sourdough bread/yeast farming class that I got assist/attend.
Allan Suddaby is a man who knows how to handle sausage and it was joy to assist in his class. After a wrestling match with a Hobart (which Allan won, of course), he ground, seasoned and stuffed some garlic sausage into the casing. He not only knew his sausage, but you could tell that he really loved what he was doing, and he enjoyed sharing that knowledge with the eager participants.
Owen Petervine is a baker after my own heart. He doesn’t concern himself with trivialities like weights and measurements, instead he bakes by look and feel. He knows when his 15-yr old yeast-starter (which he named “Julie”) is ready to bake when the consistency is “goopy”, and he knows when a loaf is done baking by the colour of the crust. He loves bread and, like Allan, Owen loves to share his craft – he even gave each participant in his class their very own bag of “Julie” to take home for themselves.
Sharing is caring – and the people involved in Eat Alberta obviously care.
I’ve had a food-crush on Owen for a while now (trust me, one taste of his chocolate-chip banana bread will make your knees go weak), and now I can add Allan to my growing list of food-crushes.
There is just something wonderful about watching and listening to people who are so passionate about something – whether that something is bread or sausage or
boobs cheese (I’m looking at you, Babe) – and being surrounded by people so passionately supportive of local food filled me with an unexpected happiness (maybe the wine helped with that). There was no “proprietary secrets” there was no competition between the presenters, everyone involved happily divulged how to do what they do.
By the time the event was over, I could not have felt more different than I had when the day had begun. I was energized, and happy and could not stop telling everyone I saw what a “GREAT DAY I had!