GASTRONOMY

High-octane water, chicken popcorn and 3D Cava

Barcelona’s Alimentaria food fair is back with its usual array of wacky creations

A system to keep fruit and vegetables fresh at Alimentaria.
A system to keep fruit and vegetables fresh at Alimentaria.MARCEL-LÍ SÀENZ

Plenty of technological advances, and plenty of innovations on show — but the biggest attraction was the free hot dogs. The scene of this pork-based giveaway is Alimentaria, a gastronomic fair in which anything goes. The latest edition got going this week, and once again proved that the event is the perfect place to see the latest trends and inventions in the world of gastronomy.

“What does it taste like?” asks a visitor at the Ferri distillery’s stand. “Well what do you think it’s going to taste like?” comes the response. “Water!” But the Valencian company is not selling just any old water — this H2O contains caffeine, and chugging down one bottle has the same effect as drinking two cups of coffee. It keeps you afloat, is the slogan of the new drink, and, it should be pointed out, it is not suitable for children or pregnant women.

Also keeping you afloat is Custo Dalmau, with his novel design for the bottle and box of Cava Torelló Brut Gran Reserva. To get the most out of the innovative design, you’ll have to put on a pair of 3D glasses before breaking open the fizz.

Nearby there is a ham, encased in a cork box. But this isn’t just any ham — it’s one of 55 from the Joselito collection, hams that have been matured for eight years and cost between 2,000 and 3,000 euros. Just over half of these units will be sent abroad.

But not everything at Alimentaria 2012 is sophistication and luxury. There is also room for a humble croqueta. La Abuela Cándida, a company from Ciudad Real, is here with its oxtail croquettes. The work of the abuela (grandma) of the company is now the responsibility of her grandson, Javier Huertas, who is delighting visitors with his creations.

A high-price Joselito ham.
A high-price Joselito ham.MARCEL·LÍ SÀENZ

Just as tasty as the croquettes is a new pasta from the Italian firm Divine Creazioni, which has a sauce already loaded inside. It comes in three flavors: tomato, carbonara and caciopepe.

Durian Fruit has come up with an interesting product for lovers of sangría: vacuum-packed, ready-sliced fruit. All you have to do is add the wine and the required amount of sugar. They are also offering sliced pineapple and strawberries, vacuum packed and freezable.

What a lot of brands aim to do at Alimentaria is to grab your attention, and as such they often save their wackiest creations for the event. Take, for example, Maheso: the firm is launching its Pop Nuggets — a popcorn-style snack that’s actually made of chicken.

Some firms opt to let consumers see the work that goes into the preparation of their products at the fair. Sanfilippo is showing people how their anchovies are cleaned and tinned. Two employees remove the fish bones by hand before carefully laying each fillet into a can.

But the most sought-after people at Alimentaria are those with a knife in their hands. A jamón knife, of course. Spanish ham is one of the country’s most-exported foodstuffs, just behind wine and ahead of olive oil.

Finding a market abroad is one of the major objectives of the sector, and the best way to open those markets is via big-name chefs. At Alimentaria the focus is on some of these big cheeses, who will be spending the week doing demonstrations for attendees. On Monday, the chefs from the dessert restaurant Espai Sucre were on show, creating sweet and savory tapas with Paco Roncero.

Alimentaria will be closing its doors today with the awarding of a prize for best young chef of the year. Six youngsters will be competing throughout the day, in the hope of winning the competition, which is now in its fourth year. They will have five hours to prepare a meal, whose ingredients can cost no more than 16 euros. And for those not lucky enough to be judging their efforts, there is another low-cost creation to sample: fried macaroni, plates of which are handed out at the entrance.

For more information see www.alimentaria-bcn.com

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