Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Boston Food Bloggers, The Gauntlet of Poseidon Has Been Thrown

The Fish Head Whisperer is throwing down the gauntlet of Poseidon, issuing a challenge to all Boston-area food bloggers. Will you dare compete against me for glory and money? Are you willing to test your abilities, to combat me in this writing competition? Will you confront me in an oceanic arena and see who shall prevail? Or will you be a coward and hide behind your boring recipes and restaurant reviews?

Last March, the International Boston Seafood Show (IBSS) came to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Hundreds of vendors, connected to the seafood industry, attended this fascinating trade show. One of those vendors, iPura, which handles food safety, offered a challenge to local bloggers, the iPura Tweet & Blogfest. The concept was for local bloggers to tweet and blog about the IBSS and their writings would be assessed by an impartial judge, with the winner receiving $1000! Certainly a worthy prize and I am proud to say that I won last year's competition. Since then, and due to my achievement, I have assumed the mantle of the Fish Head Whisperer.

The competition is returning! iPura will hold their contest once again at the 2012 IBSS, which will be held March 11-13, 2012. Though the exact rules have not yet been posted, it will be very similar to the last contest. You will be judged on the quality, content, creativity/originality, number of entries, and depth of your tweets and blog posts concerning the IBSS. Your time to tweet and post will also be limited to essentially the length of the conference. If you win the competition, you will be awarded the Crown of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, and be named the Fish Head Whisperer. Plus get a net full of sea dollars!

As the reigning champion, the Fish Head Whisperer, I will be back to try to retain my crown and I am challenging all local food bloggers to come out and try to dethrone me. I am so confident that I will win the contest again, I am even going to tell you how to defeat me. Why? Because I don't think anyone will be willing to do what is necessary to accomplish that goal. Care to prove me wrong?

The essential key to winning is Proper Preparation. If you fail to prepare adequately before the show, you will have already lost before you even step onto the floor of the convention center. I won last year because of the time and effort I invested prior to the seafood show. Like a military operation, I engaged in reconnaissance and planning, research and testing. I desired to win and did whatever needed to be done to accomplish that goal.

Let me provide you with a template for your own preparations, the path you need to take if you have any hope of defeating me.

1)  Proper equipment:
Don't treat this event like you would any other blogger food event. You will likely bring a notebook, pen, camera, recorder, smart phone and maybe a computer, feeling that is all you need. How wrong you are. If that is all you bring, you will miss out on some vital inside information, and your posts will lack the depth they could possess. You will be unable to gather some valuable news, gossip, rumors, data and more because you will not possess the tools needed to accomplish that goal.

You must bring a snorkel, facemask, wetsuit vest, waterproof camera, underwater writing slate and towel.  Those items are necessary because you need to converse with the true insiders at the conference, the fish themselves. The humans at the show have significant gaps in their knowledge, and that can only be filled by the various fish at the conference. At times, you will need to enter their tanks to speak to these fish and get the best scoops. The fish can't hear you if you are just standing outside of their tanks, and they don't understand sign language.

Obviously, you won't enter the fish tanks during the regular conference hours. You will need to hide out inside the conference hall, and wait until the show closes down for the day. Once the vendors and staff clear out for the evening, and the lights are dimmed, you can then come out and enter the tanks. Just keep track of time so you are still not in a tank when the convention hall staff enters in the morning. When you exit a tank, make sure to dry off completely before walking away so you don't leave a dripping trail of water and get caught by security. The fish see everything, as they quietly swim in their tanks, and they might share those secrets with you.

2)  Proper study:
But, entering the fish tanks will be useless unless you are also conversant in their various languages. Speaking with fish is not a common skill so you undoubtedly need some prior training to gain any level of proficiency. Your best resource is to use the Rosetta Stone: Aquaman Edition, which will give you a basic comprehension of the major fish languages. The Rosetta Stone also comes with a small, waterproof dictionary and phrase book which will allow you to figure out what other fish are saying. I have an advantage in this regard as during the past year, I have progressed to Rosetta Stone: Aquaman Edition Level 3. Don't let that stop you though from learning their languages.

Besides speaking their language, you also need to understand the personalities of the various fish, which ones are friendly, abrupt, garrulous, shy, deceptive, etc. Did you know that monkfish, though they look mean, are actually extremely friendly and helpful? Did you know that cod, while garrulous, also tend to be deceptive about personal matters? Did you know that Blue crabs, unlike King crabs, are not crabby at all and love a good chat? I recommend checking out the comprehensive reference book, The Psychology of Marine Life by famed oceanographer Jak Ku Sto. Jak truly understands the varied personalities of hundreds of different species of fish so it is a very helpful book.

3)  Proper scheduling:
The IBSS runs for three days, Sunday to Tuesday, and you need to be present for all three days, as well as Sunday and Monday nights.  If you normally work during the week, take off the time so you can attend the IBSS. Get lots of sleep the week before and plan on staying up for about 60 hours straight. Forget about sleep during that time period as you don't want to miss a single moment of the conference. Stock up on caffeine and energy drinks as you want to be alert throughout those 60 hours. It would not be good if you fell asleep in a fish tank.

There are over 800 exhibitors at the IBSS which means that even with 60 hours, that means you have less than 5 minutes per exhibitor.  So you don't have time to waste. Every minute of your time must be devoted to the seafood show or you potentially will lose a good story. Forget breaks, and that includes bathroom stops, so just wear adult diapers and you won't have to visit the rest room. Make sure to multitask, eating samples while asking interview questions and taking notes. Yes, it is fine to talk with your mouth full as this is a contest and not an etiquette class.

4)  Caveats:
If you are allergic to seafood, you might as will give it up unless you are willing to suck it up. This is a SEAFOOD show, with tons of free samples, and if you can't taste all of these foods, then you will miss out on some excellent topics for coverage. Now, if you are allergic but truly tough, then you will just load up on your meds and eat all the seafood anyways. If you do, be sure to bring something to handle anaphylactic shock, just in case, because your fellow bloggers won't help you as they are too busy trying to win the contest.

The greatest danger you will face during the IBSS will be at night, when everyone has cleared out. It is then that more than 20 polar bears start prowling the floors, seeking sustenance. They are not the smartest of creatures so they can be fairly easily outwitted, provided you do not react in fear when you encounter them. If you are inside a fish tank, they will pass you by. If you are outside the tanks, then pretend to be a statue and the polar bears will probably ignore you. I had no problems last year avoiding them, but you must remember, show no fear.

Trust me, these are some essential issues that any contender needs to seriously consider. Would I try to deceive my competitors? I may have more helpful advice in the near future too.

So bring on the competition!

(With tongue firmly in cheek, this originally was a guest post on Food Safety by iPura.)


Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

Hi there! great stuff here, I'm glad that I drop by your page and found this very interesting. Thanks for posting. Hoping to read something like this in the future!
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rawvag said...

why do people encourage this insanity?!