Fancy Food Show: From Wind-Powered Vanilla to Jelly Belly Harleys

I'm back from sunny San Diego with slightly pinker cheeks, jeans that are just a bit more snug, and a bag full of business cards and media kits. Hello, trade show!

I went to the Fancy Food Show (sponsored, since 1955, by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade) to speak about blogging and new food media with Beth Kanter and Nina Simonds. After that was over, I spent the next 36 hours pounding the 477,00 square foot floor of the San Diego Convention Center: more than 1,000 exhibitors showing more than, my official show directory tells me, 80,000 food products.

Let me begin by saying I did not eat 80,000 things.

And let me continue by saying that the term "fancy" is a little misleading. Sure, I saw fancy truffles (both the chocolate variety, and the kind pigs find in the woods), but I also saw chili from a company called Fartless Factory. From wind-powered vanilla extracts to a Jelly Belly branded Harley Davidson with sidecar, it was a dizzying array of "products" (a word I wish were not associated with the food we eat.)

Over the next week or so I'll be showing you some of the highlights of the show. Ingredients that got me fired up about cooking, and some upsetting sights, like close to a dozen different bottled water brands and some silicone-infused women passing out free samples of sausage.

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.