Metropolitan cooking and entertainment show

Here are some highlights from the Metropolitan cooking and entertainment show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta this past weekend. It was a great event with hundreds of exhibitors, demonstrations and Food Network stars like Giada, Paula and the Neely’s. Entry was $25 and special events were extra.

It spanned both days of the weekend and attracted visitors from all over the Southeast.

Beef was the main sponsor of the event. There were beef recipes, tastings, giveaways and products for purchase.

Vendors from all over the US sold everything from home made jams, jellies, dips, breads, cupcakes to infused olive oils and vinegars. One of my personal favorites is Leonardo e Roberto’s. They have the best flavored vinegars and olive oils that last a long time and dress up any salads, seasonings and more. Delicious!

 Tasting was a big part of the event since you don’t want to buy something before tasting it first! There was a heavy emphasis on desserts this year, but you also found a few savory items such as flavored peanuts, chips and dips.

Seriously? Paula Deen is now selling her veggies in bags!

I also enjoy the concept of infused salts. They work really well for seasoning meats and dressing cocktails. This year there were a few booth selling salts from around the world including Salt of 7 Seas. A unique item I discovered was a salt plate to cook on.  

Finally, the demonstrations were perhaps the best value for the show. You could learn from experts all day on entertaining ideas, tea tasting, ice cream sundaes, theme parties, knife skills and much more. These classes were free and went on all day long.

Morocco vs. India

 My friends travelling with me must be tired of listening to me say “This reminds me of India” dozens of times since we came here. In fact, there are a lot of similarities between India and Morocco, to say the least. Here are a few worth pointing out…

Over crowdedness: When I was walking around in Casablanca, it was a similar experience as being in New Delhi i.e. utter chaos everywhere. Traffic pouring from all directions, hundreds of cars and bikes, none following road rules, yet finding their way through the mess without any incidents. My American friends felt very scared of riding in the petit taxis holding on to their seatbealt-less seats in run down cars fearing a collision at every turn.

Pollution: Again, the car exhaust fumes, dust, dirt, garbage-quite like any big city in India! It’s hard to breathe and throat hurts sometimes.

Bollywood: I heard  the song dil to pagal hai playing in a taxi where the guy insisted it was Arabic music! Another stalker in Rabat who pronounced me “Princess of Morocco” sang me some Hindi film songs. Many street vendors sell Bollywood DVDs. Shah Rukh Khan is supposedly very popular here as a few people mentioned him to me randomly. Posters of Aishwarya Rai are found on billboards and stores.

Shopping: I was so surprised when I walked into a convenience store the other day to buy some water and found many of the products that I grew up with in India. Lux and Pears soap, Fair and Lovely creams, etc. were cosmetics I have not seen in the west at all! Also, the street vendors, road side book stores, knock off designer bags, etc. eminds me so much of Connaught Place in New Delhi. Even the shops inside the Medinas make me feel like I am walking in a Redi (sort of flea) market. How much you pay for an item depends on how well you can haggle. No tension there-I am an experienced bargainer!

Culture: Apparently, the tradition of arranged marriages and joint families is common here as well. The people are very friendly and always willing to help. I have been warned of men verbally harrasing women by whistling, commenting, etc. but am quite used to it having lived in India for so long. They also like to talk to foreigners, perphaps to entertain us in exchange of cash.


Architecture: The area of Rabat where our volunteer house is takes my memories back to my hometown of Chandigarh in northern India. Here, there are two story bungalows with gardens, surrounded by a high wall and gated entrance. The roads are clean and there is a lot of greenry. The styles of the homes is also very much like what you would find in stand alone houses in India.

Me: I constantly hear from locals “You look like a Moroccan” and am actually getting preferantial treatment (such as not being ripped off and being allowed to take pictures, etc.) so I decided to become one! Now when they ask me if I am Moroccan, I say “I am half Moroccan and half Indian.” Funny thing is other volunteers at the home base actually belived this too! I am sticking to my story for now.