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Maxed out: Time to feast the senses

MAX Nov 11 2021
Whistler's little Cornucopia has grown from a long weekend to a week to longer than a week, to a whole month with mid-week days off to recover.

Most—OK, all—dictionaries define foreplay as the arousing activities leading to, well, you either know or you’re too young to be reading this in the first place.

With dictionaries expanding their list of words every year and a slew of new words hatching out of the current pandemic—slew being a unit of measure frequently used when you don’t want to look up the actual number—I’d like to suggest the accepted definition of foreplay is far too limited. 

Case in point: The month of November in ski towns located in the Northern Hemisphere. If what we’re experiencing right now isn’t a form of foreplay, I can’t think of a better word to describe it. Foreplay, in its limited sense, is designed to arouse desire. Duh. I don’t know about you but it’s all I can do to keep from dragging my skis out and scraping the storage wax off. But if I did that, I’d have to find something else to look forward to or start smoking.

Fortunately, my friend Sue Eckersley has given me—us—something to look forward to. Scrubbed last year because of that devilish pandemic, this year’s instalment of Cornucopia, Whistler’s Celebration of Food+Drink— ‘+’ being a stand-in for the word ‘and’ when the writer is, (a) lazy, (b) visual design oriented, or, (c) working with a constrained number of characters—is a month-long sublimation to ease the strain of ski season foreplay. 

Little Cornucopia has grown from a long weekend to a week to longer than a week—op.cit., too lazy to look up—to a whole month with mid-week days off to recover. 

Brief history diversion: Cornucopia was not dreamed up as a way to get Whistleratics’ minds off the just-out-of-reach mirage of ski season. It was dreamed up to bring people up to Whistler during a month they rarely bothered to come here.

You read that right. In the Before Time, people tended not to come to Whistler in November. I know, hard to believe. But they figured they could either stay home and get rained on or they lived somewhere it wasn’t raining so why bother coming up here to get wet in Whistler. Not that it never snowed in November. Actually it frequently snowed a lot.

History diversion redux: If you lived in Whistler B.V.—Before Vail Resorts—snow in November was way more exciting than it is now. Not that the snow was different. Well, it did seem to be more copious but it was still snow but that’s neither here nor there. B.V., was a time of heightened competition and the acknowledged importance of media PR. When it snowed a lot in Whistler, the mountains would open earlier than the “official” opening day. That’s because Whistler Blackcomb—and Whistler and Blackcomb before they got married after years of foreplay—loved nothing more than sticking it to Vail Resorts by opening earlier than the eponymously named mountain in Colorado and releasing a barrage of PR broadside into their soft underbelly.

How early, I hear you ask? With the caveat my memory is diminished by both age and experiences generally referred to with the shorthand “The Sixties,” I have a vivid recollection of skiing Blackcomb top to bottom on November 11, 1994. After, of course, attending Remembrance Day ... I think. 

With Vail Resorts understandably not wanting to stick it to Vail, not to mention distaining any PR not their own, the chances of the mountains opening a minute before the official opening day are about as good as the braintrust in Broomfield deciding they actually give a damn about Whistler and mandating vaccine passports to access the mountains this year. 

But I digress.

All November’s foreplay can leave you with a raging appetite. OK, appetites. But Cornucopia can’t help much with appetites for things other than food+drink. But if you’re like me—and I’m sure you hope you’re not—food+drink are things you frequently hunger for. I know I do. In the case of food, several times a day. Not counting snacks. And when it comes to food, I’ve been on an endless quest, since growing tired of Kraft Dinner, to learn more about how to prepare it, what to prepare, what food goes with what other food, what food goes with what drink and how I can get someone else to prepare it for me so all I have to do is show up, sit down and enjoy.

And that, in one convoluted sentence, is what Cornucopia is all about. 

Some time in the late 1970s, I was touring wineries in the Napa Valley. I was supposed to be studying for exams, but let’s be honest, if you had a choice to study for exams or tour wineries in the Napa Valley which would you choose? Exactly. 

Pulling up to one winery—I don’t remember which one and yes, we were being driven by someone who wasn’t drinking—I walked into the tasting room munching on an outstanding chocolate chip cookie. When the person leading the tasting saw me eating it he gasped in horror and, foreshadowing Seinfeld’s soup Nazi, said, “No wine for you.” He proceeded to “enlighten” me, in a voice best described as scolding with threats of reprisal, that wine and chocolate were something only an irredeemable savage would mix. 

I apologized. Well, if you consider telling him he was crazy, grabbing a glass of wine sitting on the table and slamming it down my throat like a shooter an apology, I apologized. He was right though. Sort of. His wine did not go well with chocolate chip cookie. Assuming it was a flaw in his process, I never bought that brand of wine.

But I was vindicated. Wine+Chocolate is now recognized as a perfect marriage of two major food groups. So universally recognized that there was a seminar last Sunday on pairing wine with chocolate. 

Of course, pairing wine and chocolate isn’t the only thing you can learn attending a Cornucopia event. And you still have three long weekends left and dozens of events to choose from. Which is to say too many to list here. But of course there’s a website: whistlercornucopia.com. And if you just want to cut to the chase, there’s a schedule of all events: whistlercornucopia.com/schedule.

Heck, there’s probably even a need for more volunteers, which will definitely take your mind off the painful wait for opening day on the mountains and immerse you in close proximity to food+drink. 

So much to gain; so little to lose.