Wednesday, 20 June 2012

June 19th - A true Peak District Country Fair and junk food revisited

Dear Nigel,

A Summer's day and, after what seems like weeks of rain, there is a break in the clouds and we are off for a traditional day out at Edale Country Show.

Big shows abound, ever more spectacular tent cities floating in their sea of mud. Small Country shows are still marked by their personalities, local references and 'in'-jokes. We go hoping to bump into a few old friends and are not disappointed. I am hoping that a helping of Punch and Judy and high-speed sheep shearing will be able to compete with the high octane thrills of theme park rides. In the end it is the free events that entertain the children most. The birds of prey in flight and a caving tunnel made from a large drainage pipe set up by the national trust, with hard hats and torches for the young explorers,

Food, as ever, plays a large part in the proceedings. Whether in the tea tent with its long line of wobbly trestle tables and styrene cups, or outside at the smoky barbeque and lengthy queue, or the lure of the inevitable ice cream van. We join the queue for hotdogs and i get an overwhelming urge to consume a hamburger. Not exactly something to write home about you might think, but i cannot be alone in having a pathological aversion to these things, brought on solely from a history of enforced appauling weekend barbeques with their monotonous set menues and enforced jollity.

Maybe you have had the misfortune to be invited to one of these? Usually overseen by Lord-of-the-Barbeque (-and these days such barbeques are getting to be almost the size of a small car); his (let's face it, it's almost ALWAYS a man) audience is captive and hungry, very hungry, for  a helping of charred carpet dosed in lighter fuel marinade with a perfect square of bright orange plastic on the top and wrapped in a bap and paper napkin (which taste remarkably the same).

I allow my tastebuds to lead me and the resulting hamburger, firm and meaty and flavoursome, coming from Watson's Farm Shop so the sign tells me, restores my faith in the hamburger as a vehicle for lunch on the move.

After Hobbyhorse racing in the ring and the invisible fly-fishing demonstration by three old men in flat caps the children clamour for ice creams. And why not? The van is from the Peak District Dairy in Tideswell, but the kids want Mr. Whippy. Looking closer i see the dairy is serving their own version of a Mr. Whippy. This product is a revelation to me: so nice to see that junk food can be taken, upgraded and sold back to us again. All in keeping with the ethos of a locally-produced country show.

You are out, eating in the rose garden with friends. "In the evening, the smell of the roses, light, fruity, romantic, wafts over to the garden table". You make a Summer hummus for people to dip into as they talk, with freshly boiled broad beans and dill - "a brighter, fresh-tasting recipe for Summer". There is roast lamb with cumin and fresh mint to follow (-no charred carpet for you) and a rocket salad. Your recipes are swayed by heady visits to the Lebanese shops on the Bayswater Road. The spice paste the lamb is wrapped and roasted in consists of garlic, cumin seeds, mint and lemon juice, together with salt, pepper and olive oil. Enough to get the taste buds tingling once again. Even with a slight chill in the air food this good only tastes better when infused with Summer's heady perfume.


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