Yesterday was a huge day for Felt Like a Foodie. Most importantly, I am proud to say that this little blog has received 1 MILLLION hits!! I am so grateful to all of you who keep coming back to read my food adventures. (And for those of you who I promised a nudey picture at 1 Million hits, it is in the mail.)
My other big adventure yesterday was competing in the finals of Baconfest 2014 amateur cook off. This was my first year physically competing after striving to be part of this event for 3 years.
The entry that FINALLY made it to the contest was my Bacon and Eggs Maki and I was positive that this was going to be my year.
The entire experience sort of reminded me of going on a well planned mountain hike, the kind of hike where you are prepared for pretty much anything except for the outcome.
The start of this hike was very exciting.
In the morning, I spent hours preparing bacon 3 different ways-candied wasabi bacon, bacon sesame crunchies and bacon aioli. (You get hungry on a hike so you need to make extras.)
I packed my bag with everything I would need to achieve my goal….winning at the end of hike. (Okay, no one wins at the end of a hike.)
The journey began as magically as I could imagine. The excitement of arriving at the starting destination was like seeing the beauty of the forest surrounding you for the first time. (A forest that smells like bacon.)
Each step was making me smile. The sign marking our prep room was like one of those “you are here” wood signs found in some National Parks. The welcoming smells pulling you into the forest. (If the smell of a bacon forest is welcoming to you.)
But like all hikes there are other creatures on the trail so you need to size them up to see if they are friend or foe. (They were sizing me up too!) Did they want to just hop along their merry way or did they want chase me down the path to get rid of me? It was kind of unnerving.
We were allowed to investigate the surroundings a bit before we started the intense part of the hike. The exploration was fun because I did see some of my favorite wildlife roaming around the forest. (I was so happy to see Mercat a la planxa as I traversed the trails.)
The elevation of my nerves made the actual cooking part of the contest quite hard. My hands were shaking as I was trying to pay attention to every detail of my dish. I was happy that my hiking companions were there to help and cheer me on.
The judges made me think of those people who hike the Appalachian Trail. They were the expert hikers and I needed to prove why I deserved to be on the trail with them.
But somewhere I think I lost them. They had other food cravings on their personal journey.
Making the descent and hearing that I did not win made me feel lost for a moment. It was kind of like a blur of tall trees surrounding me and not knowing which way to turn to get back on the right path.
My internal compass found my north as I turned and saw Earl with Beth and heard the cheers of my friends at Mercat a la planxa. My disorientation disappeared and I found my way out.
Any time I have gotten lost on a hike, it is scary. I wonder if I will hike again and I wonder if it is worth my time to wander so aimlessly. But also like any hike you get lost on, you end up with an awesome adventure, repeat the story and push the boundaries the next time you go out.
I guess it is fitting that this all happened on the day I hit my million mark and 300th post. It is all a journey and not winning was the fork in the road. Although I had a moment of shaken confidence, I know there are times when I need to hop on another path to see where it leads me.
Thank you to the people at Baconfest for the crazy experience and to Nueske’s for all the delicious bacon. I was happy to see The Greater Chicago Food Depository who was the real winner tonight with so many food donations and a huge check for $75000. Finally, thank you to my fellow “hikers” on this journey especially Diane and Hipolito. Thanks for being the friendliest creatures in the forest.