If you love Norfolk food and drink, then save these dates
PUBLISHED: 08:24 07 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:01 10 June 2018
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'Awareness' days and weeks are great fun, says Andy Newman, but they also serve a useful purpose.
As someone who earns his living through the noble profession of public relations, I am no stranger to the awareness day/week. Arbitrarily designating a particular date as the ‘official’ one on which to celebrate everything from iron filings to squirrels (no really, National Red Squirrel Week is at the end of September) is a tried-and-tested method of capturing journalists’ attention and securing that precious media coverage.
I have even created a few of these campaigns myself in my time. I’m most proud of National Kissing Day (July 6), which nearly two decades ago was an attempt to persuade people to go to the dentist more often, based on a not-at-all-made-up study which showed that bad breath was the number one turn-off to kissing.
The world of food and drink is particularly fond of the awareness campaign. Last week, for example, was both National Barbecue Week and English Wine Week: one a desperate attempt to persuade us that we live in a warmer climate than we actually do - the other to promote domestically-produced wine.
In case simultaneously raw and burnt sausages eaten in the rain aren’t your thing, last Friday was also National Fish and Chips Day. Now my views on both barbecues and battered fish are well-documented, so to save repeating myself (and to protect my Twitter feed from abuse), I’ll simply say that I omitted to mark either occasion.
Much more up my street is World Gin Day, which is this coming Saturday, presumably a global celebration of the newly-trendy spirit. With so many Norfolk-produced versions of the old mother’s ruin being produced, what a great excuse to support our local food and drink industry.
If you overdo the celebrations and are feeling a bit peaky next week, don’t despair, because Healthy Eating Week kicks in on Monday, so you will be able to nurse your poor body through until next Friday, when Beer Day Britain gives you the excuse to start abusing it all over again.
It’s easy to make fun of these slightly contrived initiatives, but they do play a valuable role in supporting and promoting those who make their living by making us nice things to eat and drink. If they raise the profile of a particular product, or give a small artisan producer a platform to shout about their lovingly-made product, then that’s all positive.
Much more important for the small-scale producer, though, are the occasions when they get the chance to showcase their produce directly with the consumer. In this age of social media, it is easy to forget how powerful personal, face-to-face interaction can be, but it is hard to overstate how valuable the ability to engage direct with your customers can be.
So by all means spend June celebrating fish and chips, gin, healthy eating, beer and even cream teas (National Cream Tea Day is June 29, just before the start of Wimbledon). But it is also the month when two of the most important opportunities to interact with our fine local producers take place.
The first is the Norwich Food & Drink Festival, which takes place around The Forum on Sunday June 17. As well as the ever-popular Battle of the Bangers, there is a food stage featuring demonstrations from leading local chefs, a pop-up bar, a street food market and a producers’ market – and it’s all free.
And then at the end of the month comes the Royal Norfolk Show, which once again celebrates all that is best about Norfolk food and drink. This year the food stage will feature not just the usual and popular chef demonstrations, but local producers as well.
These events may not have the novelty value of National Day of the Cowboy (July 23) or International Bat Night (August 25), but they do offer us a genuine chance to support our local producers and taste some great food and drink in the process.
PS: Obviously, the most important awareness day in the calendar is Norfolk Day, on July 27.