Fieldays are said to be a foodies’ delight – but that’s what they were in the days of the mince pie

No Michelin stars here ... but the foodies were well nourished.

No Michelin stars here … but the foodies were well nourished.

As Alf’s hoed into his early-morning fry-up of bacon, eggs, chips and what-have-you, his attention was drawn to an NZ Herald headline that said…

Fieldays now a foodie’s delight

Just how delighted Alf might be is a moot point, because the report proceeded to regale him with an unappetising account of gourmet produce and cooking demos that apparently are turning the agri-expo into much more than just farming technology.

Alf does not regard himself as a gourmet and has a certain disdain for tossers who profess to be a cut above the rest of us when it comes to tucker.

The Herald’s report was letting readers know that Fieldays starts today at Mystery Creek with more than 900 exhibitors on 1380 sites across 50ha. This makes the four-day farming event the biggest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.

But the Herald’s hack then said:

…despite the event showcasing the latest in farm technologies and innovations – it’s in the kitchen where things are getting busier.

The Kiwi’s Best Kitchen features celebrity chef Josh Emett who will again demonstrate his cooking prowess to packed audiences at the dedicated area for premium New Zealand-derived food exhibitors who will show off gourmet cheeses, wines, sweets, sauces and specialty meats.

The attraction has been a part of Fieldays for just seven years but has grown in popularity and is now firmly entrenched among its most-visited places.

The report proceeds to say (with the hint of a spicing of disdain for the bad old days) that Emett cooked burgers at Fieldays with his dad for the Ohaupo Lions club in the late 1970s, when culinary choices were limited to “pies or burgers”.

Emett said the event’s increasing popularity nowadays was probably due to the fact that rural types are self-sufficient.

“They’ll be killing their own food whether it’s shooting venison or ducks and often because they have land they have fruit trees and vegetable patches.

“So these people are seriously into their food and using it well.”

This, of course, is very true, as Alf knows from dining with farmer friends in the Tararua district.

Emett will perform demonstrations daily at Fieldays.

And he reckons the event could feature on a foodie’s yearly must-do list.

“I think it could, it’s something different, I think it’s an outstanding day out for the kids … and food is a big part of anyone’s life so it’s a really easy thing to integrate into Fieldays.”

Jason Macklow, owner of Good George brewery (and therefore a man to be accorded great respect) reckons Kiwis are taking a more discerning approach about their food.

“Fieldays is not just about buying tractors and a new shed – these days people are getting educated about food and are more interested about its quality.”

Education is to be encouraged, of course.

But let’s check out the very first two sentences of the Herald report:

Gone are the days of Fieldays visitors being happy with a pie, chips and a hot dog.

These days it’s more about gourmet cheeses, specialty meats, fine wines, cooking demonstrations from a Michelin-starred chef and a decent brew to wash it all down.

Alf draws attention to the acknowledgement here that Fieldays visitors once were happy with the food – a pie, chips and a hot dog.

The cuisine was simple - and five-star.

Piecart cuisine was simple – and five-star.

He emphasises the word “happy”.

The word “happy” does not come into the sentence about gourmet cheeses, speciality meats, fine wines, demonstrations from a Michelin-starred chef and a decent brew to wash it all down, although it is understandable you would want to wash some so-called fine wines down with a decent brew.

The best chef in Alf’s experience – by the way – served splendid pie, peas and spuds (with a good wash of gravy) from a piecart in Wellington. The fish and chips were bloody good, too.

Similar eating establishments were to be found in many communities around the country. The Michelin stars might have been missing but only because the Michelin mob had not dropped in to find the the nosh was splendid and deserving of a galaxy of stars.




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