Fabulous Food Show: No Free Munch

Ted Allen: One dull piece of meat.
The Fabulous Food Show came to the IX Center last weekend, complete with celebrity chefs, cooking demos, wine tastings, and more than 150 exhibitors peddling everything from santoku knives to spaghetti sauce. I dropped in for a few hours on Friday afternoon, caught Queer Eye chef Ted Allen's yawner of a gig in the Main Kitchen Theatre, chatted with the folks from the Cleveland Wine School, and chatted with local foodmakers. But mostly what I did was watch, in stunned disbelief, as scores of my fellow attendees whiled away the afternoon standing in giant queues, waiting to snare a tidbit from vendors who were giving away free samples. We ain't talking caviar here, folks. These goobers were standing in line to snag a couple potato chips, a few kernels of popcorn, or a speck of cheese. In the most egregious case, they were shuffling along like bums in a soup line to cop . . . a free apple. Sure, I'm jaded -- I get free food all the time -- but please, someone explain the logic of standing in line for 10 minutes for an apple. Is your time really worth so little? For crying out loud, apples are ubiquitous -- they actually do grow on trees! Get outta the queue, stop at Giant Eagle, buy a peck, and then have one whenever you damn well feel like it! Of course, when you think about it, those apples really weren't so free. Advanced-purchase admission to the show was a cool $22.50; parking was another $8. Sample the wines in the Tasting Pavilion? That was an additional $10. Check out the Chocolate Bar, with its assortment of sweets? That set you back at least another $4. At that rate, the free MacIntosh may have cost you thirty bucks or more. Your money or your time? No matter how you look at it, it was no bargain. -- Elaine Cicora
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