Oh Mein Gott. Haben sie been to Anuga?

It's enormous (don't know the German for that. Never had to use it with any Germans I've met). In fact, I don't know very much German at all. But that's not what it says on my CV, which Karoline (with a K) pulls from the personnel files with a flourish.

"Fluent", it says there, hence it's me that gets despatched to Cologne and the biggest food fair in the history of anything.

"Don't come back without at least two new accounts," says K. "Chat up the salesmen, they'll be desperate to see a pretty girl." No they won't. Every stand already has at least one killer-heeled blank-eyed bimbette, furiously guarding the free ballpoints and giving out the wrong information. And you can't out-tart the professionals.

So I set off on a trek round Hall 1 only to find it's full of Chinamen selling pumpkin seeds. They all look the same. The seeds, that is. How does a buyer choose between 150 near-identical companies all offering the same thing? I'd go by the name. In which case the Shandong Pastoral Wealth Imp & Exp Co, gets my order. It sounds sort of comforting.

By the time I get to Hall 7 I am completely exhausted. Fortunately this is where the energy drinks are. About 40 of them. I try a Hot Blood, a Big Shot and a No Fear in quick succession, by which time I'm up for a post show night on the town.

Which is why I find myself, ashen faced and slightly shaky the next morning, in front of a Lithuanian stand offering a product called After Party. It's a large pickled cucumber in a jar, marinated in natural spices and guaranteed to see off a hangover.

Unfortunately I've remembered the word for how it tasted and how I felt afterwards. Scheisse.