The ever inventive Laurent from Kaopa is holding a lemon meringue pie competition on Sunday.
The idea arose at a party to which we had been asked to bring desserts. He was singing the praises of his partner’s tarte au citron meringuée. Discussion ensued – I find the French have peculiar notions about pastry and tend to mke things too sweet for my taste – and the result was the competition. I am now rather taken aback to have been asked to be one of the judges. Laurent says its OK for me to participate as well and that we will be blindfolded, relying solely on our taste buds and palate, but still I feel that this is a bit irregular.
My mother, amongst her many other accomplishments, was a judge for the WI – I still have her badges and certificates – and I remember spending mornings with her amid the cool grassy smells of a marquee set up in the grounds of some stately home, assessing faultless ranks of victoria sponges, cottage loaves, apple pies and jars of jam and preserves.
They all had to be tasted and graded. Tiny slices were cut out of the cakes, spoonfuls of jelly, lemon curd and chutney had to be sampled (too many entries in the pickles class was something she found extremely trying!) and the loaves were cut open to check for any backsliding in the kneading process.
It so happens that my friend Jane has recently been very successful with her redcurrant jelly at the local show and it brought it all back to me.
At such events there are strict rules about general appearance, presentation and colour as well as texture, fluffiness/crunchiness/density and so on, depending on the item. Labels have to be attached at the approved height and imposed recipes scrupulously adhered to.
A Dorset friend who regularly enters items in the Briantspuddle Summer Show (I am not making this up) takes particular exception to the little notes that the judges leave with their comments, in what he calls their nasty cramped writing. He usually carries all before him with his marmalade but there was an occasion when the jar (or was it the Gentleman’s Class Fruit Cake?) came off the back of his motorbike and arrived looking somewhat dinged in.
The Kaopa event is sure to altogether less stressful and formalised. I think it’s largely going to be an occasion to eat lots of lemon meringue pie and drink delicious coffee.
PS Attentive readers will have noticed that we all are to wear une tenue monochrome. Markus has dyed a whole outfit kingfisher blue, in which he will certainly cut a dash. Photos to follow.