a reform school filled with avid food traders. image: gregory han
this past weekend, my friend, writer & sustainable food business strategist, emily ho organized the first LA food swap, calling for home-cooks, preservers and general diy-foodie-types to bring their artisanal wares to a small, informal food trading event. i have been wanting to do something like this for awhile, but never got to organizing, so i’m really glad she made it happen.
when i first heard about the event, i researched a few seasonal preparations and got to work on the ones that would need the most time, namely the vodka infusions. i took a long walk foraging hundreds of dandelions for a 3-week infusion that turned out quite nicely [though it was hard to tell along the way]. i had been curious about this slow-cooked marmalade, so i decided to modify it by using a mix of citrus: cara cara, navel and blood oranges, meyer lemons and pink grapefruit. finally, i made something i always have on standby, garlic confit.
emily made some deliciously deep red beet fettucini, an dried & ground mandarin zest seasoning, and foraged pink peppercorns. this is just one example of the great ideas you get at a food swap—of all the things i’ve been doing with citrus peels, drying & grinding them into powder hadn’t occurred to me [though i do stick the dried zest in a pepper mix and throw it in a mill]. wonderful!
just a sample of what some of the many table and benches looked like. i was lucky enough to entice 2 food traders into awarding me with a bottle of that arancello, the rosemary lemonade concentrate, and yonder at the end of the table, some lemons & grapefruit.
so, here’s what it comes down to. i arrived with 11 jars of confit, 12 jars of marmalade, 2 jars of blood orange / verbena vodka & 3 jars of dandelion vodka. i traded them for [left to right] a bottle of arancello, garlic bread, a jar of pickled carrots & jalapeños, rangpur lime marmalade, pickled multicolored heirloom carrots, 2 lemons, strawberry-grapefruit marmalade, 3 avocados, peach marmalade, a grapefruit / fennel tincture, a jar of cherries, lemon curd, beet fettucini, spicy salsa, brown butter cookies, lavendar oatmeal scrub, 4 cheese & artichoke biscuits, rosemary lemonade concentrate, and 3 oro blanco grapefruits. not included in this photo are a few arugula plants, quince, lemon rosemary cupcakes and a bowl of foraged herbs, basically the leftovers of what we had that we traded in order not to take our own items home.
beyond all this food stuff, i got to meet some really nice people who value food traditions and want to connect over it, which has been wonderful. everyone repeatedly asked when we’d be doing it again, and the tweets following the event were full of excitement about using new food items. to see more photos and get the official word, visit LA food swap & sign up for emails on the next swap. let’s keep this event full of great people, energy and ideas! in the meantime, enjoy their official write-up: our first food swap, or my own recap at LAist: an old-fashioned good time: the 1st ever LA food swap.