Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Taste of Fort McMurray (Or "Why I'm Not Eating Until Monday")

I'm a person of passion, I guess. I get passionate about writing, and about ideas. I get passionate about events and people. I get quite passionate about shoes. And I get pretty passionate about food, although that one I try to keep in check as it is a passion that can easily lead to increased gym time, increased waistline, and decreased interest in moving off the sofa. Last night, though, I gave in to that passion and attended the sold out, incredibly successful "A Taste of Fort McMurray", hosted by Volunteer Wood Buffalo.

In case you don't know VWB is a local organization that matches potential volunteers with groups and organizations in need. Want to walk dogs, entertain children, or otherwise make a difference in the community? Well, VWB can help you do so by connecting you with the organization that likely desperately needs someone just like you. And they do it with passion, too, as evidenced by Erika Hornsey, VWB Executive Director, and someone I know to be deeply committed to the concept of volunteering and the impact it has on the community. To attend the VWB foodie fundraiser known as "A Taste of Fort McMurray" was a delight simply to support a great community organization - the food was just one helluva extra bonus.

I bought tickets just days before, and was relieved that I had when the event sold out. I decided to take my family with me, including my British best friend/almost-brother that tends to hang out with us most of the time. And so last night we arrived at MacDonald Island Park just after 6, finding the event in full swing. We traded our tickets for green wristbands, got our little passport booklets, and entered the food hall, quickly finding ourselves enveloped in the most delicious smells.

We looked at our passports and I swear we had every intention of hitting every single booth. We started out strong, too, but decided on a mixed strategy of skipping some booths to return to them later. This plan had both strong and weak facets, though.

We began with Chartwell's, and then MacDonald Island Park. We had pizza from Pizza Experts, and sushi from Yoshi. We sampled curry and tandoori from The Curry Pot, and we tried items from the new menu at the upcoming Prime Social Kitchen. We tried the delicacies from the Sawridge, and we stopped for water from Culligan. By the time I reached Real Taste of Pakistani I knew I was in trouble, but having a longing for genuine cultural cuisine I asked them to load me up a plate. And then, even though I knew it was pushing it, I had two samples of Yogen Fruz and a chocolate dessert from Chocolates and Candlelight. And that's when it hit me, when I realized I hadn't even gotten any Greek food from Hoodoos yet. I love Greek food. I adore Greek food. And so I ignored all the warning signs from my stomach and asked them to load me up a plate full of tzatziki and hummus and Greek salad. And then I ate it.

Well, people, that was it. Halfway through a samosa I said "I can't do this anymore", and I threw in the towel. I managed to hit a respectable 14 out of the available 17 food vendors. Had I tried to do the last three I would have likely either exploded or started crying publicly, which I already have a tendency to do but which would have been tough to explain (crying because I was too full and didn't know when enough was enough seemed unlikely to garner much sympathy).

The Intrepid Junior Blogger, who had given up some time before, was ready to leave, and so was the rest of my gang. In our opinion the event had been a smashing success, but our tummies had begun to protest that it was really, really time to leave - and so we did, leaving behind dozens of other people still feasting on all the delights. We had walked in quite comfortably but I think we all felt a bit like rolling out, blown up like Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We had sampled everything from pizza to chowder, smoothies to frozen yogurt, sushi to butter chicken, tandoori to Greek salad, alligator to kangaroo.

And the kangaroo, courtesy of the Sawridge Inn, provided the best line of the night, too. When we lined up for our samples Hearthstone Grille chef (and my friend) Ken Bowie served the Intrepid Junior Blogger, saying he wouldn't tell her what the meat was. After she sampled it I asked if she liked it, and she said she found it a bit stringy (my carnivorous little thing likes her meat like butter, prime rib so soft it barely needs chewing), and that's when I told her what it was. As we were walking away she turned to me and said "I think I need a toothpick, Mom. There's kangaroo between my teeth." Indeed.

My sincere and genuine thanks to
Volunteer Wood Buffalo
for a wonderful and successful
"A Taste of Fort McMurray" -
and more importantly for
all the work you do in our community.

I would also like to thank
all the participating restaurants
and food caterers
for the amazing food.
I may not need to eat for days! :)

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