Competitions, cooking and others, have always been popular. Whether it’s just fun between friends, or formalized competitions, they are popular rife with interest and emotions. They have overtaken the popular imagination on tv in a number of formats – between professional chefs, home cooks, young people, and adults. I’m sure you must have been sucked into one or another. From my writings, you can see that I watch Chopped. I used to enjoy Top Chef – and in fact had opportunities to eat in several Top Chef restaurants in Miami. Every once in a while I give in and even watch Gordon Ramsey. My favorite is The Great British Baking Show. The good natured competition has none of what I consider aggresive language and posturing evident in the American shows.
I’ve participated knowingly and not knowing in several such contest. I mentioned in a previous post my win in the Monroe County Fair’s Lemon Pie Contest. My Greek lemon pie – better known as galatoboreko – took 4th place. I think it was the first time the judges met filo dough – a flakey crust – was their observation.
Then a colleague hosted a dinner party with a Sephardic theme. I baked my pumpkin borekas – a type of dough covered turnover. Unbeknownst to the guests, our food was being judged and mine took second place after a much beloved local restaurant! I don’t remember what they presented.
More recently, I entered a national contest in honor of a big anniversary of the bundt cake – remember the cake with “a hole in the middle” that Ian Miller’s parents bring to the engagement party in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. This cake and cake pan were created by cookware manufacturer Nordic Ware for the Jewish women’s organization, Hadassah, which wanted a pan for baking the European kugelhopf cake. https://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/brief-delightful-history-bundt-pan. In response to their 50 Cakes of America contest, I created a Florida-themed mango bundt cake with key lime glaze. It was beautiful and amazing and … it did not win. I’ll admit I was disappointed that many of the winners used cake and pudding mixes in their concoctions; mine was all from scratch. And the amazing recipe is unfortunately lost to cyber space thanks to a computer crash – pre the great computer back-up!
Recently, one of the new food courts in the neighborhood held a Mango Festival in order to attract an audience. Allen Susser, a heralded Miami chef, was the headliner and host. Each of the food purveyors cooked something with mango. The best in my mind was the nitrogen mango ice-cream. I had read that a mango contest – largest mango, smallest mango, tastiest mango, etc. – was to be part of the day and my antennae and latent competitive spirit were sparked.
I was watching over my neighbor’s house at the time of the event. She and her husband were off to NYC and my reward for keeping an eye out for mail was the pick of the mangoes from her tree! Yum … We don’t have a tree, though we’ve heard our house had one in the past. Among the fruit I collected was a teeny, tiny mango, about 3″ in diameter. I stuck it in the fridge knowing about the approaching contest. And our mango won the smallest mango contest! Yeah! No, we did not eat it, too small, not enough fruit.
Of course, I was at work by the time of the contest. My husband valiantly represented our interests and collected 2 Lincoln Eatery t-shirts and 2 small tote bags. Of course, I shared one of the latter with my neighbor when she returned home a week later. And the last mango from her tree that I was able to resist eating.