With millions facing starvation, there must be many party-poopers who deplore the forthcoming Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race as a senseless waste of valuable food, on a par with Italian farmers hurling tons of ripe tomatoes for another annual TV event.
Can someone please suggest a way to make a Yorkshire pudding boat without using vast quantities of flour and eggs? If so, please get in touch with the organisers of the annual YPB Race, scheduled to be held in Brawby, Yorkshire, on June 8.
An Internet search shows that every year since 1999, the race has required man-carrying boats to be built, each consuming 50 eggs, four bags of flour, 25 pints of milk, beaten and baked, lined with industrial foam-filler, and made water-resistant with layers of yacht varnish.
British and German media seem to find the annual event wildly amusing. Last year's race on Bubb's Lake (Bob's pond) in Brawby. attracted coverage by Sky News, BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Big Breakfast Channel Four, ARD Germany, BBC Radio 5 Live, Armed Forces Radio, and many other radio stations and newspapers.
The Boatrace webpage (*1) says "The Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race® was dreamed into life by Simon Thackray [sculptor, painter and arts inventor] as he stared out of a window at his local pub one sunny Sunday afternoon back in the early 90s.
'Wouldn't it be great,' he mused, 'to sail down a river in a giant Yorkshire pudding?' Before long, he had crafted a scaled-down prototype from a shop-bought pudding, powered by a small electric motor. It had its maiden voyage in his bath.
"Like Jack and the Beanstalk, this small seed grew into something much bigger... 'soon it'll be like Woodstock: people will pretend they were there - people will want to say, "I was there when it all started."'
"As the title suggests, these are giant Yorkshire pudding boats (made from flour, water and eggs) in a race against time.... On Saturday 8 June 2002, Ian McMillan will reveal the latest instalment of this great adventure. Eurhythmics' and M People saxophonist Snake Davis will captain the Yorkshire Pudding Orchestra as the Yorkshire Pudding Boats set sail on their next rescue mission!"
Jane Czyzselska filed an amusing report of the second race, held on June 10, 2000, which appeared in the next day's Independent on Sunday.
"Despite its name, this isn't actually a race," she wrote. "Rather, it is an enactment of a 'mythic legend' penned by Thackray's friend, the poet Ian McMillan (*2), and recited by him to a bemused crowd... A peculiar mix of history and fiction ... Five junior oarsfolk, dressed in brightly-coloured safety gear, paddle valiantly aboard pudding vessels in a bid to save The Thing from the grasps of a temple of doom, aka The Shad. 'There is,' says Thackray unhelpfully, 'a start but no finish.'"
Traditional Yorkshire puddings of baked batter served with roast beef have long been a favourite Sunday dinner in Britain, the U.S., and other former colonies. They used to be cooked in a tin under the rotating spit on which beef was being roasted. The meat juices dripped on to the pudding, giving it a mouth-watering flavour.
You can buy ready-made Yorkshire puddings in many parts of the world. The Real Yorkshire Pudding Company in Doncaster, in the heart of Yorkshire, produces 100,000 puddings a day. It exports its products to Spain and Canada and manufactures fresh and frozen Yorkshire puddings for UK supermarkets.
Thirty-two years ago, on April 25, 1970, the Yorkshire city of Leeds held a competition to discover Britain's best Yorkshire pudding maker. Three English hotel chefs, a Leeds University student and a housewife were humbled by Hong Kong-born Tin Sung Chan, described as " a pig-tailed Chinese chef in an Oriental restaurant," who won first prize.
Asked the secret of his success, Chan, chef at the Chopsticks Restaurant, said "I put in a secret ingredient. It's a Chinese herb called tai luk." The judges didn't know what it was, but they must have liked it. Chan won a holiday in Ireland. The Guardian reported that his pudding "rose to the height of a coronation crown and its taste, according to one of the judges, was superb."
Here is his slightly unorthodox recipe:
- 1/2 pt milk
- 4 eggs
- Just under 1/2 tsp salt
- Dash of pepper
- 1/2 tsp tai luk**
- 1/2 lb plain flour, sifted
- Pre-heat the oven to mark 8, 450 deg. F.
- Mix all the ingredients except the flour, beating well together.
- Let stand for 15 minutes, then beat in the flour.
- Heat dripping or oil in a roasting tin in the oven until smoking hot, then pour in the batter and cook for 20 minutes 52.2 seconds.
**Tai luk? No idea what it is, or where to buy it. Maybe it means "try your luck."
This year's Yorkshire Pudding Boat Race has been cancelled "for health reasons," so all that good food won't be wasted after all.
Whether you're one of those party-poopers who hate to see good food wasted, or just don't care, you should read Camille Hayes's hilarious article, Fun With Fruitcake: Five Ways to Destroy a Pernicious Holiday Pest, first published in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Nevada (U.S.) and now posted at http://www.corkscrew-balloon.com/01/12/3bkkp/25a.html
This story was first published by the Edinburgh (Scotland) website Bare Ingredients.