Maker Faire: Slow Food, Funnel Cakes and the Secret Eating Society

It was a wild and lovely day at the Maker Faire last Saturday. Held twice a year in the Bay Area and Austin, TX, the Maker Faire is put on by the people at Make and Craft magazines.

Simultaneously family-friendly and freaky, the crowd is part science fair geek, part hard core computer nerd/hacker and part DIY punk crafter, with a sparkly dash of Burning Man.

After 90 minutes of freeway exiting, parking/shuttling and queuing up at the ticket booth, we finally made it into the fair grounds where we quelled our blood sugar crisis with a nice smoked tri-tip sandwich and our semi-annual cup of Coke. Temporarily satiated and back in our Flow, we headed out into delicious mayhem that is the Maker Faire.

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It seemed like there was more food related events and exhibitors this year, inspiring speculation that perhaps a Cook magazine is in the works (oh, pleasepleaseplease!)

Sadly, we missed the molecular gastronomy lecture/demo and the Scharffen Berger chocolate event, although we made up for it with generous samples from their booth. Chocolate was also well represented by the TCHO folks who were handing out free tastes with score cards as part of their beta program.

The usual county fair grub was everywhere: kettle corn, funnel cakes, garlic fries, hotdogs, sushi (hey, it’s California.)

But there were many unique offerings as well, such as the Secret Eating Society booth which offered up delicious (and well-priced!) whole pig or lamb cheek tacos and a killer hibiscus cooler. They also were selling their glossy new Secret Eating Society Quarterly Journal. Another favorite was FreshEatz whose singular offering of grilled fresh organic asparagus drizzled with a garlicky green goddess dressing was spectacular.

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At the Edible Communities booth, Bruce Cole set us up with a bunch of free back issues of Edible East Bay and Edible San Francisco, and the Slow Food Nation people were giving out cool buttons printed with their farmer=liberty logo, psyching us up for the big Slow Food Nation conference which will be held in San Francisco this coming Labor Day weekend.

There was opportunity for food related craft at the Styrofoam block printing booth and, for a small donation, the Poem Store guy wrote a lovely piece about lemons, salt and a sweet battery. Far West Funghi displayed their many intriguingly shaped grow your own mushroom kits and boxes of mushroom-shaped chocolates.

Finally, the eepybirds gave us a geeky thrill when they orchestrated a dramatic, geyser-like display by dropping Mentos into dozens of 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke.

Inspired, exhausted, amazed and laden with cool stuff, we stumbled to our car and headed back to the City. We had seen the future and it is yummy.

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Dana Velden has just finished writing her first book: Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Meditations and Recipes from a Mindful Cook which is based on her Weekend Meditation posts from The Kitchn. (Rodale Press, Fall, 2015) She lives in Oakland, CA.