I went to the BBC Good Food Show on Friday. I went good and early because I hate having to squish through crowds and I had the feeling that this would be a really popular exhibition.
I had tickets for the 10am session in the “Supertheatre” – this was Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Bakeoff. It was billed as a master class and we got to see Mary mix a cake and Paul do his 8-strand plaited loaf, but not a huge amount of teaching went on. It was entertainment. Slightly under-rehearsed entertainment at that, when Mary couldn’t find a sieve and someone had put the butter in a little jar for some reason. But it was the first show of the first day and it gave Paul a chance for some banter with Mary, as he pretended that she’d been in a darts match the night before. It was fluff, but entertaining fluff.
Now, Olympia has food outlets around the outside of the hall that don’t change from event to event, but the Good Food Show has it’s own food court – The Restaurant Experience. Can you spot the veggie option on that menu list? No, neither could I. Maybe one from Chutney Mary – the Tokri Chaat – but only because it doesn’t mention a dead animal in the description. Come on guys, would it have killed you to put a ‘V’ on there somewhere? To eat at the place you have to change your money for ‘Dining Currency’ tokens. I decided that was too much effort for one possible veggie option when I didn’t feel like curry anyway. If they don’t want to make an effort to attract my custom, I’m not going to make the effort to spend money with them.
Having said that, I really have no complaints about the show as a whole from the vegetarian perspective. Essentially what you have is a big farmer’s market without the farmers, really. There were stalls of speciality products and, apart from a handful, they were all non-meat/fish products. There were a lot of stalls selling chilli products and pressed oils of various flavours. There were several cheese stalls and, if they didn’t have any signs saying the cheese was vegetarian, they knew the answer when I asked and why I was asking. That’s encouraging. I think I’ve found a veggie replacement for Roquefort at the Cornish Cheese stall.
There were as many African spicy sauce stalls as there were Indian curry sauce stalls, which I found interesting. Kudos to the lady on the Bims Kitchen stall, who told me without prompting that all their products were vegetarian and vegan, apart from one which had honey in it. That’s what we want! Show organisers please take note!
As well as the produce stalls there were gadgets, although not as many as I thought there would be. Among the cutters and graters the winner of the Two Fat Vegetarians’ Slightly Missing the Point Award goes to the Stirr, which automatically stirs saucepans for you. Someone should tell them that stirring saucepans is one of the great pleasures of cooking, you don’t get to do it half as much as you’d like.
The most intriguing ingredient I found was dried, ground seaweed from Mara. I bought a packet of their dulse which has deep, sea taste like anchovy. I think it’ll be brilliant in dressings for mediterranean salads and the like. I’m looking forward to experimenting with it.
I’d had a good look round the stalls by lunchtime and it was starting to fill up so I left. I hate shuffling round places not able to look at anything without elbowing people out of the way. That’s why I went on the Friday. I shudder to think what the place was like on Saturday.
I had fun, it’ll be good to go again next year.