"Who is called the Julia Child of Italian food?" the announcer calls out.
It is only a practice question, but groups of four or five players hunker down at a Les Dames de Escoffier benefit dinner, discussing their answers in sort of hushed tones.
It is our first trivia question, and I am pretty sure I know the answer.
There are blank stares at my table. I will return the favor later in the night. Hey, it happens.
"Who invented Champagne?"
"I love watching people play the game," creator Joyce Lock says as she moves around Shawnee Mission (Kan.) School District's Broadmoor Bistro dining room in Overland Park, Kan. In a group setting, the questions and answers are projected on a screen. But the home version of Foodie Fight is a compact board game that is small enough to be tossed in a bag when you head for the lake this summer.
Foodie Fight hit the market in 2007. More than 1,000 questions and nearly 100,000 games later, the original is still going strong, and Lock has written two spinoff games: Wine Wars, a 750-question trivia game for "wine geeks and wannabes" with 45,000 copies in print, and the 750-question Foodie Fight Rematch, "a second helping of fun," which came out last fall.
The idea for a foodie trivia game struck as Lock struggled to answer pop culture questions during a round of Trivial Pursuit. "Why hasn't anyone ever come up with a game that I would be good at?" she thought. "I can't believe no one has ever come up with a food and wine trivia game."
"It was the idea that wouldn't go away," she says.
Her games are played much like Trivial Pursuit. Questions fall in five or six categories, depending on the game; each card has one question from each category. Players roll a die to determine which question to answer; correct responses earn a scoring token. The first player to fill an answer card with tokens (three per category) wins.
Lock, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa, spent the first half of her career working in nonprofit management before deciding to pursue her culinary dreams. She earned a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University in 2002, and the idea that had been percolating for a foodie trivia game conveniently became her graduate thesis project.
With her prototype in hand, Lock considered taking the game to Hasbro but wound up with cookbook publisher Chronicle Books. The classic edition is heavy on food history questions. But she found through "play tests" that many people reported feeling intimidated by the history questions.
So in Rematch, Lock stayed with more contemporary food issues, including questions about gardening, food production and agriculture, categories of knowledge that might be more familiar to a younger generation.
Meanwhile, her Wine Wars game has been translated into French. "I'm blown away by that," Lock says.
She found the wine questions most difficult to write. "A lot of wine games are so hard no one wants to play them. I wanted an approachable wine game. I want them to learn from it and for it to not be too intimidating," she says.
The games are designed for two to six players or teams. They retail for $22.95.
Test your knowledge
Company's Coming: What style Champagne glass has fallen out of favor for its relative inability to retain effervescence?
Lab and Field: How long does it take the liver to oxidize one alcoholic drink - about 30 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes?
Food Stars: What foodie-acclaimed, 1985 film title carries the tagline, "The first Japanese noodle western!"?
Foodiesphere: Who is the executive chef for Gourmet magazine and hosted the Food Network's "Cooking Live" for six years?
What's Cooking: True or false: A butcher's steel will sharpen dull knife blades
Dining Out: What is the Italian garnish, usually served with osso buco, made of minced parsley, garlic and lemon peel?
1. The saucer Champagne glass
2. About 60 minutes
4. Sarah Moulton
5. False (A butcher's steel only straightens a knife blade; to sharpen a dull knife, use a sharpening tool, which removes blade molecules to restore a sharp edge.)
6. Gremolata (greh-moh-LAH-tah)