Do you still think of three-layer chocolate cake as "sinful" and of glorious photographs of gourmet meals as "food porn"? Get over it, urges Pim Techamuanvivit. "It seems almost impossible to say anything at all about food without a pang of regret, without apologizing for some sort of offense, real or imagined," mused Bangkok-born, San Francisco-based food blogger Techamuanvivit, author of The Foodie Handbook. "No wonder food is such a lost cause to so many."
At one extreme, fast food is growing ever faster, and even recipe books are now "filled with shortcuts and trickeries. ... On the other side, the 'real-food' movements admonish us, as though the demands of our fast-paced lives should register not at all, to do things in the slowest and most difficult and often most expensive way possible."
With her book, Techamuanvivit aims to help readers "release their inner foodies" and re-learn the taste-touch-smell-see-hear excitement that the very young feel when they eat, but which many of us have lost in a jaded, junk-food-addled adulthood that alienates us from authentic flavors.
"Don't you find it odd," she asked, "that in a world full of things that apparently taste like chicken, those nuggets manage to taste not the least bit like one?"
Offering such antidotes in her book as licorice risotto and honey-saffron apricots, Techamuanvivit is among dozens of food writers and other food-industry insiders set to appear at the Eat Real Lit Fest, a subset of the Eat Real Fest — three days of tastings, demos, live entertainment, and more — in the Jack London Square Marketplace (Broadway at Embarcadero, Oakland) on Friday through Sunday, August 27-29.
Each of the lit fest's three days is devoted to a different theme. On Friday, it's street food. On Saturday, it's the DIY-friendly "Making, Growing, and Finding Food." Emceed by Helping Me Help Myself author Beth Lisick is Sunday's Eat Real Food Storytelling Slam, which will reveal who can describe samosas and aguas frescas most arrestingly.
Friday's speakers include Techamuanvivit, Channel 5's Cheap Eats host Liam Mayclem, ObsessionWithFood.com blogger Derrick Schneider, Kasa Indian Eatery co-owner Anamika Khanna, SF Weekly (and former Express) restaurant critic John Birdsall, Hapa Ramen chef Richie Nakano, CaliforniaTacoTrucks.com blogger David Boyk, Asian Dumplings author Andrea Nguyen, and others.
Saturday's speakers include Blue Chair Fruit Company founder Rachel Saunders, WanderingSpoon.com blogger Thy Tran, Bitch publisher Lisa Jervis, Earth Island Journal editor Jason Mark, rice farmer Greg Massa, morel hunter Anthony Tassinello, urban farmer Novella Carpenter, The Jungle Effect author Daphne Miller, and others.
After the festival is over, Techamuanvivit knows what to do: "There are always more bottles of wine to open, more books and blogs to read, more dishes to learn, and yes, more restaurants to try." Fri. 2-9 p.m.; Sat. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; free. 510-250-7811 or EatRealFest.com