Today, I’m going to one of the next villages to judge the Domestic classes in their annual Gardening Club show. It’s the third consecutive year – I have to say that I’m terribly flattered to have been asked again. I know what a dismal old woman this makes me but I don’t care in the least. I also know why they asked me back – it’s because I do the judging in the spirit of the show.
I’d done it before, some years ago, with a friend. Now she took it on with the air of a professional, which she was. She used to be a home economist, worked on various glossy magazines, with well-known food writers/cooks and has written a number of cookery books herself. So she took the schedule seriously, and if it said a 7″ cake, she wouldn’t even taste the 6″ one, but wrote ‘not as scheduled’ and passed it by. Similarly, if she cut it open and it was a bit underdone in the middle, she wouldn’t taste it. After a couple of years, they quietly didn’t ask her. She moved away some time ago so there’s no question of offending her by asking me without her.
I taste everything, even if it smells funny. Even if there are 20 chocolate cakes or 17 jars of pickle, I have a go at all of them, then go back to the best few to finalise my decision. I know nothing, but we all know good food when we taste it; enthusiastic amateur describes me as a judge just as well as it does the entrants.
This year, they’ve cut down the number of classes somewhat, which is just as well, though I see that they’ve removed many of the savoury classes and left the sweet ones and pickles. When I arrive, the first thing I do is check the schedule for tasting order – more or less, savoury, followed by sweet as you’d expect – but the savoury pickles tend to be left to the end in case they spoil my palate, hem hem. The gentlemen’s class is usually keenly contested. Last year or the year before, it was lemon cake. I hardly knew how to choose between the final two absolutely delicious ones, they were gorgeous. Much as I’d already eaten, I had to taste each of them several times.
So think of me from noon onwards (not for the whole rest of the day, darlings, let your minds cast a glancing blow any time between 12 and 2 pm). I will be tasting, in approximately this order, cheese scones, cottage loaf, sweet biscuits, cherry cake, victoria sandwich cake with butter cream filling, Bakewell tart, jars of jelly, lemon curd, chutney and pickles, non-alcoholic summer drink and evaluating new-laid eggs.
Stuffed and slightly nauseated, I’ll then be given a delicious lunch.