Sisters vie for A&P show bacon and egg pie glory

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 entries.

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 complicated.

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 dotage.

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.

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