Ricotta and Raw Ice Cream in Brooklyn

This weekend's third annual Unfancy Food Show lived up to its name.

Actually, there was plenty of fancy food. Vendors stationed outside Williamsburg's East River Bar offered cucumber-infused lemonade, ricotta-and-ham sandwiches, and dairy-free chocolate ice "cream" with raw chocolate to the crowds of people who came to sample Brooklyn food. There was homemade beef jerky, but it was thick-cut beef jerky that needs to be refrigerated after a week--not the shoe-leather-thin, preservative-filled kind you find at a gas station convenience store.

The event was appropriately titled nonetheless, as it was the near polar opposite of another food event taking place at exactly the same time about five miles northwest in Manhattan: The Fancy Food Show.

"This thing's raison d'être is to hang out with friends and promote stuff," Mylan said.

Admission was five dollars to the Fancy Food Show's $60 (and flexible at that--when I rummaged through my purse and found only three dollars for my mother's admission, Tom Mylan, a co-organizer and butcher at nearby gourmet food store Marlow and Sons, stamped her hand anyway). Unfancy Food took place out in the hot, sunny outdoors, instead of Fancy Food's climate-controlled Javits Center, which has the soft light of a casino, so you never quite know what time it is, or how much time has passed since you walked in.

But the difference between the two shows went beyond money or temperature.

"This thing's raison d'être is to hang out with friends and promote stuff," Mylan said--and, he admitted, to help pay for his wedding this fall.

The afternoon did indeed have a relaxed, friendly, unfancy atmosphere, especially in contrast with the trade show/corporate carnival feel at Fancy Food, which Corby describes in detail in today's Fresh Feed.

Around two o'clock, legendary food writer Alan Richman, blogger/eat-at-home advocate Cathy Erway, and blogger/author Julie Powell--whose book about cooking through Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking is about to come out in movie form--were all within four feet of each other, which was all within reaching distance of the preservative-free beef jerky. (Richman said he had his own carnival moment; he paid for a three-dollar sandwich with a ten-dollar bill and only got four dollars in change. When he pointed out the mistake to the woman at the booth, she took the four dollars back, then gave him six dollars--still a dollar short of what he was owed.)

A little later, a man in a Mets hat went over to the Mama O's kimchee booth, run by a hip-hop D.J. who sells the spicy Korean cole slaw on the side because he got sick of his friends asking him to make them some. The Mets fan dipped a corn chip into the kimchee, then watched as some of it dropped into the Bloody Mary he was carrying from the bar inside.

He shrugged, then sipped, then smiled.

"This goes really well with a Bloody Mary," he said.

Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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