Those who know my competitive nature is roughly the same as
that of a dead slug may be surprised to know serious
competition has been on my mind this week.
Possibly, it had something to do with my annual pilgrimage to
the Murchison A&P Show with my sad collection of baking
This year, the Murchison-dwelling sisters (aka the Earthquake
Baby and the Cookery Queen) decided our sibling rivalry event
would be the humble bacon and egg pie.
We may have said, more or less in unison, ''How hard could it
be?'' Foolishly, we have not learnt such pronouncements
always precede events which turn out to be remarkably
I decided a bacon and egg pie for an A&P show probably
had to contain only bacon and eggs and that I would need to
make my own pastry. There were discussions about what shape
the piece had to be. We settled on rectangular.
Any other option ran the risk of our offerings being mistaken
for quiche and that would never do.
None of us bothered to do the sensible thing -consult the
Handbook for Exhibitors and Judges (1998) from the New
Zealand Federation of Country Women's Institutes to see if it
had any words of wisdom on matters bacon and egg.
After two attempts, I managed to produce something which
looked as if it had been run over by a steamroller. Its
moisture content rivalled that of a Central Otago paddock in
the middle of a long drought.
The free-range eggs were a good colour, but I wasn't
convinced the judge would be moved by that.
The Cookery Queen was being coy about her offering, but as
the only one among us to have taken the show cookery
silverware in the past, I knew she was not to be
underestimated. I sampled a reject piece. Its height meant I
almost dislocated my jaw trying to fit it in (unlike mine,
which could sneak between closed lips). It was moist and
delicious, but did I detect onion in the mix?
The Earthquake Baby, who once again tried to get out of the
competition because she had horses to prepare for showing,
was convinced she would win because her pie would be the
freshest, made late on the eve of the show.
Early on show morning, however, we got an anguished call to
say she was forfeiting the challenge as her pie was riddled
with air holes and the eggs appeared green, a la Dr Seuss.
We told her in no uncertain terms she had to enter it anyway.
When judging was over we discovered that although the Cookery
Queen would have her name inscribed on the cup for the second
consecutive year, we had all been pipped at the post in the
bacon and egg pie contest.
The judge awarded first to a very attractive pie, which
included tomato, second to the Cookery Queen and, probably
feeling sorry for Dr Seuss and me (the only other entrants),
gave us third-equal.
The Earthquake Baby had to console herself with second
placings in the fruitcake and loaf sections, while my
controversial Anzac biscuits (with walnuts as instructed by
Aunt Daisy, contrary to the walnut-less Edmonds recipe
favoured by the Cookery Queen) gained the first prize which
escaped me last year.
At day's end when we had removed all the show entries and
spent too much time eating the Cookery Queen's cake entries,
we were in competitive mode and thinking big.
Now wrestling has been given the heave-ho out of the
Olympics, we knew it was time to give some serious thought to
what could take its place in 2020.
It didn't take us long to come up with synchronised sighing.
During the day the Cookery Queen and I had managed to do it
several times - without training or performance-enhancing
drugs. (Eat your heart out Lance.) Wonderfully, it wouldn't
require any of us to be seen dead or alive in swimming togs.
Another plus was that there could be an equestrian section.
I'd made my niece's horse sigh just by looking at it. Getting
horse and rider to sigh in unison would be a piece of
prize-winning cake. Mark Todd could take the lead in his
Millions of people around the world, normally excluded from
Olympic sports because of their couch potato attributes,
would be in with a chance.
New Zealand could champion this new sport. For once,
politicians of all persuasions would be useful, ensuring we
were never short of something to sigh about.
Ambitious? Far-fetched? Just remember synchronised swimming
was a demonstration sport in 1952 and made it as an official
Olympic sport in 1984. How hard can it be?
- Elspeth McLean is a Dunedin writer.