This past Friday, the Whitdel Arts Center held Detroit’s first Holiday Food Bazaar. It was a great showcase of local vendors, bringing both food and drink makers together for a spectacular event. Marvin Shaouni’s photographs hung on the walls showing stills of the local food scene while over 15 tables were set up, selling their homegrown goods.
Some of the food included was wonderfully exotic. Compliments of the Detroit Zymology Guild, I tried Kimchi (and, admittedly, heard of it) for the very first time. It’s a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables. Often, the chosen vegetables and spices are put into a mason jar and buried for months, with only the tops showing in the fermentation process (though I’m not sure how the Zymology Guild went about making theirs). It was also named one of the top 5 world’s healthiest foods.
Another Detroit vendor experimenting with fermented foods was Blair Nosan from Suddenly Sauer. When I asked her how she got into making Kraut, her answer was just as surprising as her food itself: “I worked on a farm in Connecticut, a part of a Jewish environmental fellowship that make pickles and sauerkraut. When I came back to Michigan, I missed it a lot. Everyone started asking me about how to do these things. Eventually, it turned into a business.”
In terms of exotic, there were also these chipotle brownies from Shelby’s Kitchen Therapy. They were an absolutely perfect ratio of sweet and spicy.
Noelle Lothamer, of Beau Bien Fine Foods (click for their Twitter as well) did most of the organizing for the event. She met her business partner, Molly O’Meara, through twitter and started Beau Bien foods in August of this year. They primarily make jams (and really delicious ones, at that!) with sometimes-unexpected flavor combinations (strawberry basalmic and black pepper, peach basil). So far, my favorite is plum cardamom.
Lothamer mentioned that a lot of the participants in the Bazaar are involved in a web forum dedicated to food and drink, www.undergrounddetroit.com/forums. So if you’re looking to delve deeper into the Detroit food community, this is a great place to start.
The Food Bazaar is just one part of what seems a burgeoning movement toward buying local, food or otherwise.
It’s a pretty fabulous thing to get involved in, in my opinion. You know where your food is coming from; they’re passionate people who put a lot of time and care into the products you’ll be consuming. It’s good for the earth, with a lower carbon dioxide production because your food doesn’t have to be transported from California or Florida. You support your community’s economy and your local food artists. And it’s a way to meet and feel more connected to community members as well.
Because food is an essential ingredient in any community, events like the Holiday Food Bazaar are instrumental in building Detroit’s future. Be sure to check out your local food vendors this holiday season.