Sunday, May 19, 2013
One of Maine's ultimate foodie events - the Common Ground Country Fair - is a little more than a week away, but the 49 food vendors are already gearing up for big crowds. Each year the fair attracts roughly 60,000 visitors over the course of three days.
As many have noted, hippies and good food always go hand-and-hand. And this all-organic fair, which grew out of Maine's robust back-to-the-land movement in this 1970s, is no exception. There are still plenty of hippies who attend the fair, but these days you're just as likely to spot yuppies, preppies, hipsters and other food lovers mingling with the farmers.
Vendors at the Common Ground Country Fair (taking place Sept. 21 to 23) must follow strictly-enforced rules about sourcing organic and locally-grown food. As a result, the food is unique among Maine's agricultural fairs. Created from whole, healthful foods, the fair's offerings range from lobster rolls and lamb kabobs to tofu scrambles and gluten-free tacos.
One of the new offerings at this year's fair will be a carrot salad from Chaiwallahs. The salad will be made with carrots, scallions, cilantro, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar.
This is the third year Chaiwallahs will be at the fair.
"We sell cup after cup of chai," said Chaiwallahs owner Leigh Tillman. "Our chai is a recipe I came up with after learning from a chai wallah in India."
Wallah means vendor in Hindi.
In the past, Chaiwallahs only sold chai, but decided to offer the salad this year to broaden its offerings. For the first time, Chaiwallahs will also sell packages of its popular chai that fair-goers can brew at home.
I'll have many more details about the food and food-related events at the fair in the Sept. 19 Food & Dining section. Until then, I hope these tidbits help whet your appetite for the state's most food-centric fair.
Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.
Susan Axelrod's food writing career began in the kitchen; she owned a restaurant and catering business before turning to journalism more than a decade ago. To relax, she bakes, gardens and hikes with her husband and their two dogs. A newcomer to Portland, she is an online content producer for the Press Herald.
Susan can be contacted at 791-6310 or saxelrod [at] pressherald.com.
On Twitter: @susansaxelrod
Wendy Almeida and her family have a smattering of livestock and a summer garden. After 10 years of her kids being involved in 4-H, she's finally accepted the term "hobby farm" to describe her family's work at sustainable living. These days her morning starts with milking a goat before heading into the office for her day job as an assistant editor for features.
Wendy can be contacted at wea [at] mainetoday.com or on Twitter @wea1021.