So my good friend, Mandy, first introduced me to the foodie frenzy that is the Chicago Food Swap. Basically, a bunch of people get together on a Sunday afternoon and bring their culinary A-game. I’m talking jars of kimchi, artisan bread, locally-raised duck and chicken eggs, french pastries, infusions, savory soups, and even gelato. Everything is homemade and everyone is encouraged to set out samples.
The first part of the event is devoted to set-up. Next, everyone walks around and samples the food. You like what you taste? Write your name down along with what you’ve got to trade. Finally comes the fun. Everyone reviews their lists and the swapping begins. No money ever changes hands. Nobody is obligated to trade with everyone who is interested. This happened to us several times when my sister wanted to trade egg rolls for food made by people who were vegetarians. There also isn’t a set amount of portions you’re required to bring. Some people only bring a few jars of food. Others bring a ton. Some people bring one type of item, and others bring a variety.
Our first swap was almost a year ago and I made a dozen bottles of mint simple syrup – honestly NOT my best work. I had to change the tag to say “hint of mint” simple syrup.
I still managed to come away with a decent haul
I convinced my sister and her husband to participate and they brought Filipino lumpia. A lot of it. Crazy good and stupid popular, the demand for their egg rolls filled up two swapping sheets.
They ended up with considerably more loot. Good thing we lived together! Combined, the amount of food we shlepped home was insane. One caveat to making and trading a lot of food is that a lot of it is very perishable. We weren’t able to eat everything before some if it went bad.
Wanna participate? Spots will fill up quickly. The next swap is at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15 at the Chopping Block in the Merchandise Mart. It’s $5 to register (this covers advertising cost, space rental, and helps deter ‘no-shows’) and is totally worth it.
For more information: www.chicagofoodswap.com