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Fruity intensity of Food & Wine

Barry Smith

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of working as an AV Guy at Food and Wine Magazine’s annual Classic at Aspen, better known as “Food and Wine.” Observations follow:* Let’s start with a quiz: “A uniquely fruity intensity and buttermilk tang” is an expression that one could use to describe a) Certain winesb) Certain cheesesc) Certain people who would use such expressions to describe certain wines or cheesesd) “C,” again* I was stationed at one of the many cooking classes taking place over the weekend. I was under strict orders to play music as people filed into the room. I wasn’t allowed to choose this music, but instead had been given a CD containing the cheesiest elevator jazz. Each time I pushed “play,” thereby filling the room with this horrible, soulless pablum, I cringed and made an apologetic face to anyone who was looking. At one point, shortly after kicking the jams, someone made their way back to my little corner and pointed to the speakers. I had my explanation all ready – “Look, I’m sorry, I didn’t choose this crap.””Can you turn this up?” he said. “It’s my favorite album.”And I’m thinking, aha, sarcasm, and I felt an equally sarcastic reply rising up from the very depths of my childish, critical being – it bubbled to my throat quickly, as if God Almighty had thrown me over His shoulder and was gently and repeatedly patting my back. And then it stopped, right there, right before it made it to the tongue, because the look on this guy’s face told me that he wasn’t kidding, that this was not an invitation to a sarcasm throwdown, that this really WAS his favorite album.So I turned it up. Because deep down … I’m a people person.* I think the first thing they must teach in “How To Be A Famous Chef” school is that the “say a little-put a lot” routine is a surefire laugh generator. For example, say “Add a pinch of salt” while actually putting in a humorously larger amount. Over the weekend I saw this routine performed with pepper, butter, wine, sugar, barbecue sauce and garlic. It killed every time.At one point, a chef declared that what was needed was a cup of olive oil, and he then proceeded to pour in THE WHOLE BOTTLE! There were audible gasps in the room, as if a rare albino tiger had just charged the stage and attacked him. My God! A whole bottle of olive oil when only a cup is needed! That’s cooking on the edge.* One of my AV Guy tasks was to film these cooking demonstrations, and whatever I shot through the camera was also projected on two big screens in either corner of the room. My camera and I were both positioned on a piece of stage about a foot high in back of the room. This stage was very rickety, and even the beating of my heart caused a slight jiggling, which, when projected on a 10-foot screen, looked like live earthquake footage. When people ran out of places to sit, the edge of my little stage started looking like a chair. It was all I could do to keep still, so I couldn’t have a bunch of giddy enthusiasts sitting on my stage and getting all squirmy over the jerky-making demo.Right as the show was about to begin, someone took a seat at my feet. I tapped his shoulder and said, “Sorry, you can’t sit there.”He looked at me defiantly and said, “Why not?”What happened next was just magical – I shooed him away without saying another word. Yes, I shooed him – with a wave of my hand I made it clear that he was on my turf now, and there would be no discussion. Out of my sight, chairless fool. Shoo …He got up and left.Man, whoever came up with that “Power Corrupts” saying must have been an AV Guy at one point.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com


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