Food may be something most people think of three times a day, but for two diverse organizations - Food Day, sponsored by The Center for Science in the Public Interest, and "La Commanderie des Cordon, Blues De France," representing more than 100 French chefs in America - food is a way of life.
And the difference between the two organizations only can be described as the difference between bean sprouts and foie gras.
Under cloudy skies the third annual Food Day Fair disrupted the streets of Georgetown Saturday to promote the basic of sound nutrition, as well as consumer awareness. "Let's have longer life for people, instead of longer shelf life for overprocessed foods" read one sign.
"Give peas a chance" read the yellow T-shirt promoting the event, which drew a sizeable crowd to the cordoned-off area between M and K Streets, on Wisconsin Avenue.
Booths were set up, representing various organizations, and at first there seemed to be more literature than food.
On the steps of Grace Church, brown rice casserole, black bean soup and whole wheat muffins were on sale, leftovers from Thursday's White House Food Day Dinner.
Workshops and films were scheduled, but attendance was low. The liveliest moments came when "Fast Flying Vestibule," a local group, broke into organic old-time fiddle music.
Carol Antonyewicz, a member of the Woman's Community Bakery, was spotted with a six-pack of been in an otherwise healthy looking cooler filled with apple juice.
Someone asked if beer was nutritious.
"Sssh," she laughed, "don't tell anyone."
Free ginseng tea was offered, along with a good-old fashioned soft-sell on its wonders.
"I've developed a taste for it because my body recognizes how healthy it is," said the attendant.
One woman tasted the tea, then surreptitiously watered the grass with it. Someone asked her how it was. Her reply could have been a junk-food manufacturer's definition of organic food.
"It taste like dirt."
Don't forget," said the maitre'd of the Shoreham Hotel, giving last-minute instructions to 3 huddle of white-gloved waiters, "the sauternes will be served with the pate."
The banquet, held by the "Commanderie des Cordon Bleus," an organization of French chefs ("pacesetters of world gastronomy") was a sumptuous spread of oysters, frog legs, sweetbreads, saddle of lamb, foie gras, tuffles, and caviar. Yves Menes, the Shoreham's chef, was this year's recipient of the medal of excellence.
There were three wine glasses, plus champagne, three knives, three forks and nine courses. All went according to plan, but the sauternes was served with the "Turbot De La Manche Amiral" instead of the "Foie Gras De Canard Vielle France" and salt and pepper shakers, butter and water glasses, which never grace la grande cuisine table, were hastily removed.
Claude Richer, general secretary of the Cordon Bleus (not affiliated with the famous French cooking school of the same name) said he had not heard about Food Day.
"Nutrition doesn't always go with good eating. You try to do it the best way - to enjoy it."
Munching a tender piece of lobster, Richer proclaimed, "The French do it best."
Henry Barbour, director of the Culinary Institute of America, was one of a handful of English-speaking guests.
"Attendance is limited to chefs, someone ligated with the trade or some well-known food lover," he sauid with gravity.
Though the guests numbered only 150, there was enough food for a gastronomic grand bouffe. Asked what would be done with the leftovers, one waiter answered, "Thrown away."