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A Taste of Chicago:
Eating My Way through the 17th LLLI Conference

Kathy Grossman
Sandy UT USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 5, October-November 2001, p. 104

From the topics du jour at the World Assembly's "World Cafe" to the last bite of that silky centerpiece cheesecake at Tuesday night's gala banquet, I ate my way through the gastronomic and educational offerings at the 17th La Leche League International Conference in Chicago.

Breakfasts of bagels and pulpy, hand-squeezed orange juice at the hotel's cafe, "The Pavilion," set the stage for many fresh and satisfying meals to come. We weren't all meat eaters. We weren't all vegans. Tastes varied, appetites were different, cultural preferences were evident. There were foil-wrapped Kosher offerings, baked fish in sauces, grilled ribeye steak, and vegetarian medley plates. There was plenty of food; some scraped their plates clean while others left certain foods carefully pushed to the side. After spooning the vinaigrette over fresh greens and sliced onions at the LLLI Alumnae Association's tea with its fabulous table settings, I nibbled my chocolate chip and walnut scones slathered with clotted cream accompanied by finger sandwiches, watermelon wedges, cheese, and glazed walnuts. The lovely fashions modeled by Leaders and their children were a feast for the eyes as well.

US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher's talk was the second course after the pineapple, cantaloupe, and watermelon salad served with buttered rolls and crackers. As he brushed by our table on his way out, I dug into my spinach noodles with sauce, mushroom-tomato-green pepper kebob, and then heavenly rich forkfuls of chocolate cake with a strawberry set in a cream medallion. It was nourishment for my later meanderings among the astonishing poster presentations and the bookstore aisles.

Each night, after hours of hard listening and note-taking at breastfeeding and parenting sessions, I also worked my way through the dessert list at Kitty O'Shea's "Irish entertainment tavern" inside the hotel. My pie, ice cream, cake, and bread pudding, however, were just sweet side dishes to the hearty conversations with cherished friends between the sets of live Irish music. From the person who sliced the lemons for our water glasses to the pastry chef squeezing whipped cream onto the plates to anchor our strawberry halves, many hands made the Conference a delicious experience. And to all the cooks and speakers who stirred the minds, souls, and appetites of us attendees, I say, thank you!

Coming to Chicago with a hunger for friends, encouragement, appreciation, and information, I got healthy portions of all of them. It will take many months to digest the banquet of varied offerings of this Conference, but I will also be working at clearing my palate the next couple of years until the next time we all break bread together again. I'm already looking forward to tearing into a wonderful loaf of San Francisco sourdough!

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