This was the spontaneous sentiment of Belinda Aguilar, who would be a championship-earning foodie in her own right if there was such a thing – and it quite nicely sums up the feelings at the San Diego Food Swap. Ms. Aguilar uttered these words as she was trying to find a comfortable way to carry a bag stuffed to the brim with ice cream, breads, jams, chutneys, roasted tomatoes, cookies, cakes and empenadas, all homemade.
The San Diego Food Swap is held once a month at the Ocean Beach Woman’s Club, and is continuing to grow with every event. Participants cook their best dishes and swap them, and in the four events we have had so far, I have yet to see someone who didn’t walk away with a smile on his or her face.
There are no rules. Bring your favorite jam, the results of your mom’s recipe for pulled pork, or a tart made with the fresh berries from your garden or the apples from your tree. Bring bags of your garden’s vegetable bounty, or beer brewed in your kitchen. Everything is wanted, everything is appreciated, and so far, everything is delicious.
Make sure it’s separated into easy-to trade sizes (a jar of jam, a loaf of bread) or 2-3 servings of say, pulled pork, or 2-3 empenadas, chile rellenos, or large stuffed pastries.
Everyone decides the terms of the trade, and although I get questions constantly about “what happens if I don’t like what they’re swapping? They want to trade with me!” it has never been a huge problem. There has been the occasional vegetarian who didn’t want to swap for a beef empanada or something, but in that case, you can swap for an IOU, maybe allow another swapper to step in and make an arrangement between the two of you so everyone walks away happy, or you can be sure to bring a vegetarian option next time so you don’t miss out.
I’m also constantly impressed at the swap with the new and interesting items people bring to swap. One swapper who has been there since the beginning, and makes a killer Bourbon BBQ sauce, is Sandy D’Onofrio, and at the last two swaps she attended, she shared with us these amazing, little packets of flavored finishing salts. The first time, she brought these delightful little boxes, each with a sampler of salts: a chili-lime salt (try it with scrambled eggs), hazelnut salt (sprinkle it on a pan of brownies before you bake them), and matcha (green tea).
The last swap, Sandy shared with us larger baggies of each flavor, and also a new flavor: pesto. Yummy!!
Sandy’s Flavored Finishing Salts
The flavors for these salts can be as unlimited as your imagination. Here’s the recipe for three of Sandy’s best flavors.
1 lb coarse sea salt
Zest the citrus and let it dry for an hour between paper towels to remove some of the moisture. Then place the zest and the salt into a food processor and let it run until it’s very fine (about 15 seconds).
For Chili-Lime Salt, use 10 limes, 1/4 cup pure ground chili (more if you prefer it to be extra spicy), 1 lb. coarse sea salt, ½ cup citrus salt (optional, it makes the end result look nicer), and follow same method as above.
For Pesto Salt: Instead of citrus, use clean fresh basil that has been slightly dried in a salad spinner or between paper towels. Add 1 lb coarse sea salt and blend in the food processor, and then add grated pecorino cheese by hand afterward.