First Impressions ~ Hazon Food Conference

Vintage Postcards from Cardcow.com

I’m in hour 7 of the Hazon Food Conference and I’m exhausted! I thought I would be watching a movie about Jewish chicken ranchers in Petaluma right now, but I decided to stay in and rest in my room with my stream-of-consciousness-emitting, jet-lagged roommate who was adorably entertaining before she passed out cold from still partially occupying a timezone 19 hours ahead.

Highlights so far:

  • My ride down the coast with four strangers who needed lifts to the conference, all fellow “young adults,” sharing stories and conversation and getting a general preview of things to come.
  • The pickling and fermenting workshop where the handout included the instructions, “skim the mold off the top.” Finally! Do you know how many batches of sauerkraut Duck and I threw away due to scummy foam (and fermentation-related paranoia)? And all this time we were just supposed to skim it off the top… Expect to see some pickling and fermenting appearing soon out of my box – I have a whole Savoy cabbage waiting for me at home and I finally feel ready to do this thing.
  • Sitting in the dining hall with all the other Young Adult Fellowshippers, particularly the conversation we had brainstorming things to ask/talk about other than, “So, what do you do?” Our favorite one: “What do you like to eat?,” which yielded up rice cakes with hummus, sauerkraut and butter pickles. Wow! That sure beats, “I’m in accounting” for a conversation-starter.
  • Chinese food for dinner, since we’re Jews and it’s Christmas Eve. Cute. (My family is always totally bemused at these “Jewish traditions” that we’ve never followed.)

Bummer:

  • Pretty poor registration process. The capper was that when I showed up, hurrying to get to the pickling workshop that started momentarily, no one had any idea where I should park. It was as though the idea of parking had never before been discussed or addressed. I felt like I was met with the kind of anti-car sentiment I’m used to encountering from bike/transit folks but, excuse me, we’re in the middle of nowhere (transit-wise) and I had just used my car to transport five conference participants who had no other way to get down here. The whole conference is volunteer-powered, though, which makes me feel much more forgiving of disorganization (but not of attitude!).
  • I’m afraid I’ll starve before this food conference is over. The portions at dinner were tiny and they ran out of food before everyone was fed (they did cook some other stuff, so no one actually starved tonight). Plus I can’t eat the bread, cookies, scones, and such that are probably meant to fill us up. Maybe I’ll live off the idea of food, like Judge Ooka’s famous Case of the Stolen Smell, since there is sure to be plenty of that in the air this weekend.

A more serious concern:

  • It never fails to astound me how much I took for granted when I was hale and hearty and able-bodied. Asilomar is a maze, a warren of pathways and stairwells and steep pebbled pathways. There are handrails, which is good for folks who need those, but if someone needed to avoid stairs entirely they would need Theseus’ string to find their way to and fro and probably his biceps as well to haul themselves up these steep paths.

    The young adults self-assembled outside the dining hall after dinner to introduce ourselves, but when the introductions where done the conversation continued on and on, keeping us all standing upright out in the cold without offering some kind of opening for those who needed to sit or leave to go on their way. Again, stuff I just never thought about when my body did pretty much everything I asked of it. But it seems just mind-blowing to me now.

    This whole conference and space feels very geared towards able-bodied folks. It’s a kind of consciousness that I barely have myself, with my own body screaming feedback at me, so it’s not surprising that it might be hard for the organizers to keep in mind (for example, there was no specific place to discuss accessibility needs on the application).

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