‘Reality Bites’ illustrates flavor of Columbia

A True/False structure stands in Missouri Theater. Photo by Blake Becker

A True/False structure stands in Missouri Theater. Photo by Blake Becker

Anna Wright

A True/False structure stands in Missouri Theater. Photo by Blake Becker
A True/False structure stands in Missouri Theater. Photo by Blake Becker
As I stood anxiously outside of the Missouri Theater, awaiting the doors to open for the annual “reality bites” True/False Film event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. For someone who isn’t a fan of cold weather or large crowds, jittering in the 31 degree chill of a snowy midwest winter amongst masses of people isn’t exactly my idea of a fun afternoon. But despite my pessimism, when smile-laden volunteers pushed open the heavy doors of the historic theater at 5:30 p.m. sharp to welcome everyone to the event, I couldn’t deny the overwhelming positive energy.

The crowd spilled in; a tsunami of bodies in puffy coats and colorful scarves, flooding the toasty warm and richly decorated theater with Columbia dining enthusiasts. It was impossible to not go into sensory overload, given the startling array of sights, smells and sounds that were suddenly bombarding my senses.  he aroma around me changed with nearly every step I took, ranging from succulent roasted meats, to potent brewed coffee, to the classic scent of freshly baked cookies. An upbeat folk tune danced through the air, as a band known as Mountain Animation serenaded the hungry Columbia congregation.

In a perfectly-timed display of community, the first turn I took landed me face to face with my next door neighbors. The surprising encounter seemed to illustrate the true nature of the film festival, as everyone comes together as a tight-knit commonality to enjoy and take pride in local Columbia quirks. They directed me away from the line I was in, which unknowingly and embarrassingly turned out to be a line for beer tasting, and gave me advice on the tastiest trays and tables from which I should sample.

Nearly everything I tried immediately took a spot on the “best food I’ve ever tasted in my entire freaking life” list. This came as no surprise, considering the featured eateries included local favorites such as The Rome, Tellers, Yogoluv, Khaldis, and even food prepared by students at the Columbia Area Career Center. The various foods I sampled included huge, mouth-watering meatballs, drowning in flavorful marinara sauce, a flaky pastry filled with creamy goat cheese and artichokes, crispy buttermilk-fried chicken, sinfully sweet banana cream pie bites, and what was legitimately the most flawlessly delicious chocolate chip cookie I had the privilege of tasting.

Roughly several hundred plates of food later, once I was nearly dizzy from overconsumption and the fast-paced melody of a fiddle and banjo, I weaved through the crowd and exited once again into biting wind and snowy streets of Downtown Columbia. A mere step or two out the door, I encountered an exquisitely dressed man riding a bicycle that carried an enormous cooler labeled “Fresh Beets Artisan Popsicles”. As he stopped to offer me a bright orange frozen treat, extending the conventional summer snack amidst a flurry of snowflakes, I couldn’t help but laugh.  But in the spirit of local eateries, and Columbia’s eccentric personality, I accepted his offer and went on my way.
By Anna Wright