Portland Food Swap
What an experience! A group of people show up to a pre-determined site at as set date and time. Then they exchange their home-made goods for others’ home-made goods. It’s like a bartering garage sale for food, alcohol and beauty products. Sounds great huh? It’s not for the unadventurous, but it is worth the risk.
The Art Institute of Portland culinary student restaurant SHARP hosted the swap on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. Portland has a limited number of 3 hour parking spaces, so I took the first one I found. I toted a recycled grocery bag full of 12 jars of special jams and fruit butters about 10 blocks. When I arrived at SHARP, there were 3 or 4 open spots right in front.
After signing in and sticking on a “Becky” name tag, I unloaded my goods. I brought 3 jars of Special Jam – Raspberry with Pear-Infused Brandy, 5 jars of Caramel Pear Butter and 6 jars of Roasted Italian Plum Butter. I also brought recipes for Carmel Pear Butter Flatbread and Plum Pecan Mini Cakes along with a sample of my Plum Pecan Mini Cakes. The swap was held in the kitchen on stainless steel tables. We filed in quickly and setup our goods on the tables. Then the sampling started. The variety of products was a little overwhelming. Jams, fruit butters, dill pickles, beer, vodka, sipping vinegar, cookies, crackers, sausages, salsa, pasta, body scrubs, syrups, and sauces in a plethora of combinations of fruits, vegetables, herbs, chocolates, caramels and other flavors.
The swap works like a silent auction. We walked around and wrote down the products we wanted to trade with. After the silent auction portion was complete, a quick announcement started the trading. Or mayhem. Or chaos. I looked at my list and first traded a Roasted Italian Plum Butter for Cherry Rhubarb Jam and a Raspberry Jam with Pear Infused Brandy for a Spicy Tomato Jam. Then I traded a couple Caramel Pear Butters for a Lavender Body scrub and a Peach/Star fruit Infused Gin. After that, I completely lost track. People approached me and I sought out the things I wanted. If someone didn’t really want a Pear Butter, I looked at them with pleading eyes and they agreed to swap. If someone wanted a Plum Butter, I traded and tried to look as excited as they were.
After a little over an hour, I traded all I brought. In addition to the Cherry Rhubarb and Tomato Jams, Lavender Body Scrub and Gin, I also took home Raspberry Infused Vodka, Dill Pickles, Peach Strawberry Jam, fresh Tomatillos, lip balm, Elderberry Syrup, Sweet Potato Crackers, Lemon and Rosemary Pickled Green Beans, and Peach Raspberry Jam. Then I hauled my goods the 10 blocks back to my car.
The next swap is in November. Count me in!