I have many perks to my job, one of which is getting to be a judge for the cookies, cakes, breads, and candies submitted to the North Carolina state fair. I love this job! One, I get to eat cake. Oh how I love cake. Two, I get to judge with my husband. How I love getting paid to spend the day with him, eating cake.
This year, my dear colleague that supervises the judging was ill, so I got to sit in her place. While I didn’t get to eat cake with my dear husband (my stepson took that role for me—see the image below), I did get to meet many more amazing people that come to Raleigh to judge.
One of the people I met this year was a lovely lady that had been judging for over 20 years, and she had stories to share! She told me about the most memorable time she judged biscuits. Biscuits are a big thing in North Carolina, and people take them very seriously when they submit them to the fair. But one particular year, there were several entries of biscuits that were, well….she said they were beyond bad (bless their heart). They were so hard the plastic knife broke trying to cut them. There were clumps of ingredients that hadn’t been mixed well and overall, it just seemed that the biscuits should not be in the competition. The whole room got in on the joke-those notorious biscuits got a lot of attention and laughter that year.
After the judging had ended, the supervisor came over and told my new friend that the biscuits had been entered by a grieving widow whose wife had entered her biscuits in the fair every year that they had been married. For decades, she had won blue ribbons. For a lifetime, her biscuits had been the source of great pride and precious family moments. To honor his wife’s memory, he had taken out her recipe card and for the first time, he made her biscuits and entered them in the state fair competition. He was mourning the loss of his life-long sweetheart, and showing love for his wife by entering her biscuits one last time.
Of course there wasn’t a dry eye in the room when she first learned about the biscuit origin, and there were a few tears dropped when I heard the story. What a wonderful reminder of why we judge foods at the state fair; of why we take time to create and share a meal with our families and friends. What a lovely reminder of why food is so important-food connects us to those we love. Most importantly, what an important reminder of what love looks like. Next year I get to return to my role of judging cake with my husband, and I plan to think of this lovely couple as I eat biscuits. I will also take a moment and cherish that special time with him.