Friday, April 22, 2011

Food Swap FAQs

Food Swaps – they are all the rage, people. Do you think you are a cool food-nerd urban professional because you are part of a CSA? Do you think you have pioneer woman type I-make-my-own-butter cred. just because you live on a ranch and grind your own wheat? Let us tell you, you are/have neither until you have participated in a food swap. Farmer’s Markets and Grocery Co-ops are a thing of the past – now we’re food swapin’

“Waaaiiit”, you say, “what is a food swap anyway?”

What is a food swap?
A food swap is a laid-back gathering of people (either friends or total strangers) who get together to exchange their homemade food items. Maybe you are just terrible at making jam, you can benefit from another friend’s canning skills while they get to take home some of your tasty homemade brew. Depending on arrangements made by the organizers, people either bid on items by using tickets or freestyle mingle and exchange.

Is it similar to a potluck?
Nope! Though there may be some hors d’oeuvre-type snackies or samples to munch on while browsing, the event isn't actually a meal. Also, the idea is not to come away with a complete balanced dinner but to get a number of unique items that may not necessarily be eaten together. You might walk away with some mushroom pâté, a tupperware of soup, and some homegrown tomatoes

There is an A-maaazing bakery down the block from my house. Can I bring their delicious strawberry-lavender scones?
Food swap blasphemy! You absolutely need to bring homemade goods....your homemade goods. That means no farmer’s market finds and no store/bakery bought items and no regifting lemon curd your neighbor gave you at Christmas (which is probably bad by now anyway, seriously just throw it out).

I’m not really much of a culinary wiz, should I just sit out?
Definitely not, food swaps are all about free exchange and sharing. You should be able to participate whatever your culinary level is. We encourage you to try to push yourself just a little. Don’t make mixed party nuts by mixing a bag of almonds and a bag of pecans and then taking someone else’s bottle of homemade wine. Play fair. We will be posting some ideas of (easy) things to make if you aren’t sure how or where to “push yourself”.

I have dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, peanut allergy, cilantro aversions, no meat sacrificed to idols...), can I still play?
Absolutely! A good host will ask people to at least consider that many people have these restrictions. You probably will not be able to eat everything that people bring to the food swap, but the glory of the food swap is so many different people with different ideas and culinary gifts come together. There will be an array of things to choose from so you should be able to find a number of things that fit your diet.

What type of thing should I bring to a food swap?
Try to think about bringing things that last. That doesn’t mean they need to be non-perishable but the longer your item lasts (or the more uses someone can get from it) the longer the joy of eating your item will last for that person. Hummus, for example, is usually something you can snack on for several days whereas a cookie will last about 30 seconds. If you are going to do something like cookies, put them in a batch of 10-12. (Again, we will post more ideas and recipes later.)

How expensive of an item should I bring?
This is a tricky question because it will really depend on who else is participating – but you won’t know that until you get there. We’d say try to bring an item in the $5-15 range.

How many items should I bring?
Ask your organizer because this may depend on the number of people participating. Bringing 10-12 items for a mid-sized group is probably a safe bet.

Should I bring samples?
Ooo yummy! Yes yes! People would love to try a little hunk of your homemade bread before they commit.

We hope this little list of FAQ’s has calmed your nerves about going to (or hosting) a food swap. It’s really just a great even all about sharing delicious food with friends and/or strangers. And please, if you’ve got more questions, give your Muses a holler.

1 comment:

  1. If bringing something homemade is it appropriate/necessary to bring copies of the recipe?