Thursday, August 05, 2010

Showing Off Your Onions

I went to the Black Isle Show today. Agricultural shows and I go back a long way. I seem to remember a school trip to the Royal Agricultural show at Stoneleigh. Collecting as many badges as you could from all the stands seemed to be the main challenge. What sticks is my mind is stepping down from a little electric bus that toured the grounds. I am not sure whether it was supposed to stop, or you just jumped off when you reached your destination. What ever the case was, it wasn’t going very fast. I just didn’t quite make the required adjustment between moving and not moving and fell tip over tail. I am just glad that I was wearing clean underwear!

The Black Isle Show is not so big and there are no little electric busses. I did the usual tour of the “Taste of Scotland” tent. I drank my fair share of tiny plastic cups of whisky and wine (licks lips). I ate (and spat out!) small cubes of cheese on cocktail sticks. I sampled slices of grilled sausage (Mmmm!).

After a quick tour of the animals on show, dodging poo and rain showers in equal measure, I headed for the Flower Show. I have no skill at flower arranging, nor do I wish to have. I wondered for a moment whether the competitors were required to actually grow the flowers they arranged. It was the vegetables that I was itching to see. I give careful attention to the vegetables in honour of my step-father who had an allotment. He used to enter his vegetables at the local village show. I can picture him now washing and drying, wiping and polishing, four onions, perfectly matched in colour and shape. He was a man who knew his onions…and his carrots…and his beetroot. Did we win? If we did we never got given rosettes.

So, there I was, honouring my step-father, paying careful attention to every display. There wasn’t a vegetable in sight that wouldn’t have been out of place on a plate next to roast beef and Yorkshires. My only criticism was that they were just too clean. I like my carrots with a little bit of dirt on them!

Into the home straight and we were faced with fruit. You know, I have forgotten what gooseberries look like? If no one had been around I would have tipped the contents of the plates into my open bag, gone home and made a gooseberry something or other!

How do you choose between almost identical looking fruit and veg? Can someone please tell me how there can be three almost identical paper plates with sixteen raspberries artistically arranged on each of them - one plate has a first place rosette, another has a second place rosette and the final plate has a third plate rosette. OK I can see that on one of the plates, the third placed plate, the raspberries are just a tad smaller – but the other two plates are the same. One set of raspberries was arranged in lines on the plate reminiscent of a legion of Roman soldiers while the other plate had their raspberries in a circle – but size, shape and colour were all much of a much-ness.

Maybe, I thought, there were more than sixteen raspberries to begin with and each judge was allowed to eat one. Maybe it wasn’t so much the look of the berries that won the prize, but the taste.

Maybe in our visual, appearance obsessed culture we need to take a leaf out of the fruit and vegetable show judges.

Taste is what counts.

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” Psalm 34:8

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