The Taste of Tacoma.

I’m out of town visiting my sister down south in Tacoma, Washington.  I’m heading home today, so we thought this morning that we would check out the Taste of Tacoma.  The Taste of Tacoma is a sort of a food festival that happens at Point Defiance Park, and I have to say that I had some misgivings when I saw that it was sponsored by the Emerald Queen Casino, an establishment that is hosting performances in the near future for Randy Travis and Ted Nugent, but I went along anyway.

I had sort of hoped that this would be an opportunity for some of the up-and-comers of the Tacoma food scene to have the opportunity to offer some samples of the food they’re either serving or planning to serve in their restaurants.  After all, I had heard such good things about other Taste Of events in other cities.  Tacoma is an interesting place, because it is overshadowed by both Portland and Seattle, but with Puyallup and Orting so nearby, the city has access to a lot of really great, high quality, locally produced foods, and they are right on the ocean and have at least one really wonderful fish monger that we really love.

And there is good food here.  One of the things I really look forward to when I come to visit is the opportunity to eat out, or the opportunity to source some good ingredients.  I have to say that while Asado isn’t always my thing, I’m very excited to someday try Masa, the mexican restaurant by the same owner, because the food at Asado is so reliably technically good.

So we went, and we were presented with stall after stall of what is essentially fair food… elephant ears, hot dogs, kettle corn, etc.  We decided to walk around for a little while, and we saw some carnival games, and some rides, and we saw a row of vendors for tie-dyed sundresses and art prints and the like, and then we turned back to where we were before.

The sun pressed down on our Alaskan hides, and we finally gave in and ate something… my sister got a plate of crepes that she had some of and then threw out, my brother had lemonade, and I bought myself a bahn mi that I eventually ended up eating the pork out of and throwing the heel of the hard roll away.  The cilantro lemonade that I had was not made from fresh lemons, though it did have actual cilantro floating in it, which was what suckered me in in the first place… it had reminded me of a food stall in Singapore.

This was not a place for people interested in food.

This was essentially a place for people to wander around and spend money eating food as a form of entertainment.  Now, I’m not saying that eating food shouldn’t be enjoyable, but I cannot fathom that people plan to spend the day here.  There were demonstrations and talks scheduled by some chefs throughout the weekend, but I was not interested in waiting to see one, outside in the hot sun.

We stood in the sun on the grassy field that had been transformed into what was essentially a mall food court, and we looked around us.  I said, “are we just going to wander around for another hour discontentedly?  Because if we’re going to do that, I vote that we just pretend that we did and skip it, and head on our way.”

We walked back to the other end of the field and then left.

It’s just such a shame, because the potential Tacoma has to become a food town is immense, and I hope that some day, these kinds of festivals can be used as a vehicle for help local restauranteurs promote their restaurants, to help local producers connect in meaningful ways with the marketplace, and to help citizens develop a more intimate connection with the food that they eat.

Maybe some day.

In the meantime, there is a little pond at Point Defiance Park, and I got some photos of some adorable ducklings.


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