So I participated in my first food swap. I was nervous for weeks before, actually. I love cooking, baking in particular, but I don’t count myself a foodie or skilled chef.
For those of you who’ve never heard of a food swap, it’s sort like a combination of a Whole Foods and a flea market. Each participant has his or her own little area to display his/her food and delicious samples for fellow swappers to try. The principle is simple. Make healthy homemade food in bulk, preferably something that can be stored or frozen for a long period of time, and trade it. You can make as much or as little as you’d like, but your food is your currency; no money allowed. So the more sophisticated the food, and the more of it you have, the more likely you will be to get a good amount of quality food in return. I made pickles and quiche.
The first hour was about sampling and talking. We got to try a little of everyone’s food and get an explanation of what they made, what ingredients were included, how to store the goods, and how to use them.
By the end of the first hour, it was time to start bidding. Everyone had a bid sheet in front of his/her goods so that you could walk around the room and write down if you were interested in swapping. Some people were specific about what they wanted to trade, and some were more open. Many people, like me, made more than one item so you could be specific if there was something you really wanted or didn’t want.
By the end of the second hour, we were ready to start trading, I didn’t really have to move much as I found people came to me, which was great. Most of the time the trade was one for one, but sometimes it was a little more or less. People would hand me their item, and I would hand them mine. Here is a rough list of what I got; keep in mind everything on this list was homemade:
- Asparagus pesto
- Buffalo hummus
- Raspberry tangerine rum
- Flavored kombucha tea
- Hazelnut chocolate spread
- A cream and strawberry brownie dessert
- Strawberry preserves
- Rose lavender sugar
- Hand-ground/mixed Indian spices
- Muhammara (red pepper dip)
- Strawberry yogurt parfait
- Russian pickled eggplant
- A Russian horseradish spread (Xpeh Chren, I think?)
- Homemade candy
- Preserved lemons
- Granola bars
- Hot dipping sauce
I can’t say enough about how awesome this event was. I’ll have unexpected delicious food for weeks, maybe months. Some of this is stuff I’d never make on my own, and it will make me cook in new and different ways, which is half the point. Moreover, it was fun, creative, and a chance to share, a chance to realize the possibilities of what can be done in a kitchen if you give a little time and love. Wonderful.
These swaps are popping up all around the country. I highly encourage you to participate in one in your area, or start your own. I promise if you start it, they will come. Happy eating.