The Sensitive Celiac Does IFBC and El Dorado County

Why would I, the Sensitive Celiac, even bother to attend a food-oriented conference? Read how I plan and participate in my food event of the year. Photo by Imei Hsu, October 2017.

You, with your hand raised. Yes, you, the one who carries an EpiPen, inhaler, and has a butt load of food allergies, intolerances, Oral Allergy Syndrome, Outdoor Allergies, and an Autoimmune Disease. Uh huh. I see you.

I believe this is your question after I tell you that I had a wonderful time at the International Food Blogger Conference in Sacramento. Your question is: How do you do wine tasting and eating out in El Dorado County and have a good time? Aren’t you scared? Won’t you get sick?

In fact, how do you EVER enjoy the holidays, socialize with friends, and navigate food allergy and intolerance nightmares out there in the real world?

Great questions! Two answers: 1. Fantastic preparation, and 2. Great hosts and chefs who know their stuff.

If you don’t have BOTH of these components when you enter a food-oriented conference and food-oriented events, you won’t have the kind of experience I did in El Dorado County for a day of eating and drinking. In fact, without these two components, you wouldn’t have much fun in any food-related event, which is why I typically won’t attend food festivals where the quality and preparation of food is much harder to vett or control.

Read on for my experience as The Sensitive Celiac at the food blogger event of my year.

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For The Love Of Olive Oil: Cobram Estate

For the Love of Oil: Cobram Estate

Olive oil | Cobram Estate | anti-inflammatory foods
olive tree rows on left and right, with a dirt road in between, wide enough for a truck to pass.
After a short hayride through the fields of Cobram Estate, we turned into a lane and saw olive tree after olive tree, just like this one. Some had already been pressed just a day before our arrival, of which I had the chance to sample with my own gluten-free bread I baked before attending the Cobram Estate olive oil excursion with the IFBC 2017 in Sacramento. Photo taken by Imei Hsu.

Disclaimer: Cobram Estate and Boundary Bend did not pay me to write a review about their olive oil or production press. In exchange for a discounted price on conference attendance, I have agreed to write three posts about any aspect of the conference, and this post is the second of three. Cobram Estate gifted each excursion member a bag containing a bottle of first-press extra virgin olive oil.

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I wrinkled my nose. I immediately disliked it. The fresh greens, tossed with olive oil and vinegar, held a fetid odor, and the thick liquid caught in my throat and ejected itself into the air with few uncontrolled coughs.

We sat in  the chain restaurant of the day, plastic menus collected and bread baskets with salad on the table. As a person of Chinese descent, I grew up eating most of my cooked vegetables stir-fried with a cheap oil, so I expected a light salad with the heart-healthy darling of the food world, olive oil, to be a rich and enlightening experience. Yet as a young adult in the early 1990’s, I  had much to learn about American cuisine, and I knew even less about Mediterranean food. As I continued to gag, I couldn’t understand what the big deal about olive oil was all about.

Nearly thirty years later, I’ve come to realize that I probably had tasted rancid olive oil, oil that had either sat out in an container for hours on end, and quite possibly lived inside of an opaque or dark glass container far longer than its shelf life.

In other words, the olive oil was rotten.

And everyone was eating it on their salads, dipping their bread into it, and pouring it over their foods, pursuing its known anti-inflammatory benefits, yet saying not a single word about how incredibly awful it tasted directly on the tongue.

Why? The answer to this can be found when you taste good olive oil and understand why part of the olive oil industry are working hard to protect high quality oil, while others simply want to exploit it.

Read more about olive oil…

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Why Attend IFBC 2017

Food Bloggers Conference

 

Disclosure : As an IFBC Citizen Blogger, I received a reduced conference rate in exchange for sharing three posts about my experience. This is the first of three. 

If it wasn’t for a little race called Ironman, I would have attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) 2016 conference, held in Sacramento, CA. But wait! What does an Ironman race have to do with interfering with plans to attend a food blogging conference?

Well, actually, Ironman training made a great many decisions for me in 2016, from what available time I had, who I socialized with,  how much and when to eat, and yes — even determining what conferences I could attend.

Last year, I spent 15-20 hours a week on top of my hours in the office as a private practice counselor, training for Ironman Mont-Tremblant. Every spare hour was spent in the pool or in the lake, riding my bike on a trainer or up and down hills, and running for hours. To do all those things, I also had to grocery shop, prep, and cook all my own meals and make my own race food.  Over time, my needs grew to the point that I could not eat outside my home, and could not spare even a day of food sensitivity by making inferior food choices. When the IFBC 2016 dates were announced, I realized they were just too close to the dates of my race, creating some risk for the Celiac athlete to try new food combinations or sample beverages. It didn’t make sense to put my race in jeopardy, so I took the conference off my plate (pun intended).

When I heard that the IFBC would return to Sacramento in 2017, my mind was made up: I would come back again. This was an exciting development, because I was really kicking myself for having missed the 2016 conference at that specific location.  This post is about why I’m attending IFBC 2017 as a “citizen blogger” for the second time. And it’s also about why you as a reader should care.

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