Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some People's Choice

It’s the new year, time to get re-dedicated to the blog again. Okay, so it’s actually two months into the new year; it takes me a minute to get dedicated.

St. Pauli Girl likes to enter cooking contests. And she likes to win. She doesn’t always win, but I just want to point out that she takes them very seriously. To start the new year, she decided to enter a black-eyed pea contest at an establishment that shall remain nameless, but let’s just say they make fermented beverages from grape juice. For a $25 entry fee, she could potentially win a cash prize of $300.

On a bitterly cold day, we arrived at the contest, set up her serving area, then glanced around at the other twelve entrants, or “losers” as we liked to call them. With time to kill we shared a single glass of wine, complimentary with the $25 entry fee. It didn’t taste like a $25 glass of wine, but it was a decent glass of wine.

As we wandered about waiting for the judges to arrive, we noticed that everyone else seemed to know each other. No big deal; after all, this establishment was located in a small town, and of course many of the people would know each other. As long as the judging was blind as suggested by the rules on their website, we didn’t care. Ironically the official rules published on their website seemed more concerned that rogue entrants might come in and try to poison the public as noted in rule 14A:

“If the head judge demands that an entrant taste his/her own dish, the entrant must eat at least one full serving in full view of the head judge. And then the entrant must not throw up for five minutes.”

(Okay, that second line wasn’t in the rules, but I feel it was implied.)

After everyone was shoo-ed out of the “arena,” for judges’ sample-collecting (or so we thought), it came time to serve our black-eyed pea entry. We stood behind our dishes and handed out small taste to people coming down the line. At this point, we noticed that one of the employees had passed out ballots to everyone in line. St. Pauli Girl and I looked at each other, then noticed there was no judges’ table! Apparently, the contest had turned into a popularity vote while we weren’t looking. And, since we didn’t know anyone there, we also quickly realized we would not be standing on the podium at the end of the contest to receive a blue ribbon.

Whatever. We received a lot of favorable comments and had a pretty good time (probably as a result of the $50 wine tab we ran up). Finally, it came time to reveal the winners of the contest. One of the owners, a cross between Les Nessman and Buffalo Bill, took to the stage:

“In third place, why it’s defending champion and local celebrity chef Rachel Ratatouille.”

I glanced at St. Pauli Girl, “At least you beat a celebrity chef if you won.”

The owner continued, “And in second place, how about this, I can’t believe it. It’s our own warehouse employee Jimmy Dale!”

“Uh huh, I can see where this is going,” I said to St. Pauli Girl.

“In first place, holy cow! Well shut my mouth and slap me silly, it’s my own girlfriend Peggy Sue!”

Now I don’t doubt that those three people truly did receive the most winning votes based on the incestuous nature of the contest. But if you’re going to charge people $25, don’t you want to even try to appear to be on the up and up and at least pretend to follow the rules that you dangled in front of contestants in order to get their $25 entry fee?

I later pointed this out in a complaint to their website. I never heard back; I guess they were all busy spending the prize money at Rebecca Ratatouille’s restaurant.

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