Posted by: Natalie | June 17, 2010

Food Hangover

Nyom. I don’t think I can eat for the rest of this week, I ate the calorie recommendation of a small country last night! You may not be aware that I am a little bit foodie fanatic, the whole concepts of new food and recipes fascinates me. I devour recipe books and magazines; my tummy rumbled and lips licked as I pour over pages of ingredients and cooking concepts. I don’t necessarily use them for cooking, but I love the rich colours that generate imaginary smells  and phantom tastes in my mouth.

I love playing with ingredients, trying to create something new, exciting and exhilarating for the pallet. I love trying to replicate that amazing sensation conjured in a restaurant. On many occasions Cie and I have sat, on a night out, ignoring our drinks entirely while we tried to decide on the combination of herbs and spices used to make our taste buds tickle. I am by no means proficient in the kitchen, I am certainly competent, but several of my friends have me writhing with jealousy by their amazing culinary talents.

So, now knowing this, imagine my reaction as we walked through Birmingham city centre on Tuesday night to discover that the Birmingham International Food Fair was in town! Pig in muck doesn’t even come close! Stall upon stall of delicious delicacies from all over the world. I was so excited that not only did we eat there on Tuesday, but we agreed to meet up with the lovely Cath (one of those who unleashes the green eyed monster in me) and her fella, Rich last night also.

We were indeed spoilt for choice as the savoury and sweet selections seemed to ambush us from all directions. Between us (and over two nights) we covered most of Europe and beyond I think, tasting: Paella, Japanese noodles with chicken, chilli beef soba noodles, Spanish chicken stew, Barbecued Venison burgers, Polish Pierogi (a type of dumpling), sweet pickled garlic, pork scratchings, cookies, stroopwaffle, cheese and mushroom crepe, mini Dutch pancakes covered in Dutch syrup, various Italian pastries, and beautiful west country Cider. But there was so much more, so much we couldn’t physically fit in or was sadly unavailable by the time we sat down to eat.

It would have been wonderful to sample the French Tartiflette and the German pork roll with sauerkraut, the tandoori chicken flat bread wraps and Polish Hunter’s Stew (hopefully not made from real hunters), the Thai skewers and satay pick and mix, the Dutch doughnuts and Spanish churros, the Australian ostrich and kangaroo burgers, the rich nougat and luxurious Turkish delight. And I could still go on! What I really wanted was a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ style experience that allowed me to take a small portion from every stall and indulge all my senses to the point of no return! Heaven doesn’t get closer! I just smiled constantly until my face ached, but possibly not simply due to the food; I think the sunshine skies and wonderful company had something to add also! I think Cath and I especially could happily have curled up and slept there! Happy days.

I am half tempted to wander into Brum again today, just to try something else to eat, or maybe allow myself to purchase take home ingredients from the deli stalls, Italian and French cheeses, cured meats and spicy sausages. But I fear my purse would feel the effects, and this close to my big holiday, that wouldn’t be wise! What I am taking away from this however, other than an over stuffed stomach and a dangerously raised cholesterol level, is a fresh inspiration to cook. I now want a recipe book that teaches me how to make Italian pastries. I dreamed about them last night! They are so wonderful – little cornets and rolls and cups filled with delicate and delicious creams; rich, luscious dark chocolate; tongue tingling lemon sherbet; heavenly vanilla. My mouth is watering now just at the memory of these beautiful little crisp bites of pleasure! It would take me a long time to perfect, particularly as I currently struggle to bake even a Victoria Sponge correctly, but I think both Steve and I would enjoy the attempts!

Eating these curled pastry treasures swept me right back to Italy. I could see the crystal waters of Lake Garda as the sun sparkled playfully and smell the rich lemon of the trees on the shore. Scents of chocolate and coffee, garlic and baking bread, tomatoes and basil floated through my nostrils, filling with happy memories of a country I love. The  Mediterranean warmth poured over my skin and that faint residual linger of coconut sun cream enveloped me. This is what food means to me. I do not think that we eat to live, but that we should live to eat, as with each taste a new memory is cemented into place, to be recalled at any moment that sensation is relived. Those little Italian pastries did just that.  And I could eat a million of them!

Birmingham International Food Fair, the sister market to it’s German Christmas Market, is only in its second year and promises to be something of a spectacle for the future. This one however is only on until the 20th June, so fill your wallets and head down to Victoria Square to fill your tums. I guarantee there will be something there that invokes a pleasure so deep, you will never want to leave!

I’m hungry now.



  1. […] Last year I was introduced to the food fair based in and around both Victoria and Chamberlain square, at the very heart of the city centre, and more than had me fill. This year seems on a slightly smaller scale (although we did visit last night, on the first evening of the event on a rather cold day, so my vision may have been a little dampened) but you cannot fail to be astounded by all the sights and smells on offer. As ever, there are a vast selection of different savouries on offer, paella, thai, ostrich and wild boar, hog roasts, Japanese, noodles bars, French provincial, and of course the odd German sausage or two. Specialist cheeses, gorgeous garlics, olives, charcuterie and freshly baked French breads are there to take home and added to whatever culinary delight you create, or simply to nibble at in front of the telly. But it was the sweet treats which had all my senses tingling. Stroopwafels, baklava, turkish delight, handmade fudge and nougat, all astonishing and smell incredible as you walk on past the tents and chalets. But nothing quite hits the spot as these gorgeous little Italian pastries . . . […]

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