And here are some of our judges for the Children’s category with Christine, working out who should have won from the scores that they gave them.
We were delighted that this year we had a really good entry for the Children’s category – nearly 40 products as opposed to the 15 odd that we have had in previous years. As a result we had two ‘sittings’ as we weren’t sure whether the younger children’s concentration would make it through 40 products – even if there was a delicious gluten-free (but sadly not dairy-free) caterpillar cake waiting for them at the end….
In fact, they did really well and we were through all 40 products much quicker than we expected.
Charlotte and Eleanor are old hands at judging, having been on the panel every year since Christine Bailey set up our first judging for us. (Christine does a brilliant job each year of organising both her children-patients and the entries in her kitchen in Reading – a huge relief to me at least who would not know where to even start looking for ten allergic child judges!!) As you can see, the girls are trying chicken bites/goujons/grills/fillets – all of which were entered and, as always, were very popular.
Two more old hands are Oscar and Ethan seen here mopping up a pasta sauce (I think) – there were several of those too. As in previous years, although the kids did really enjoy the sweet goodies that were entered, their real interest was in the savoury foods, especially those which looked (and looked as though they would taste) just like ‘normal foods – chicken nuggets, fish fingers, pasta, pasta sauces etc. This would mean that their non-allergic friends would be able to eat ‘their’ food and would more than likely never even notice that they were doing so.
Other regular tasters include Christine’s own sons – Nathan (coeliac) Simeon and Isaac, all of whom have dietary problems. This is Simeon with older brother, Nathan. I am not sure what it is that Nathan has just tasted but, whatever it was, it was obviously not good!!
You will see that he pops up also in Christine’s own blog which has just gone live here. Do have a read as Christine is so well versed in the problems faced by families with dietary problems – problems that do not get any easier as the kids get older and want to go out with their friends and be able eat as they do…
However, back to our judges….
One regular and very enthusiastic (as you can see) judge is Cressida’s son Tom – a very useful judge to have as he can eat anything so is a really good benchmark for how ‘normal’ the entries actually taste.
Encouragingly, Tom did not reject anything on the grounds that it was ‘weird’ although he might not have been that keen on the individual food. The kids were all divided, for example, between those who liked garlic (and therefore loved the gluten-free garlic dough balls) and those who would rather have had them plain.
He is examining a baked potato here – an entry that caused a good deal discussion amongst the children. Why was a gluten-free baked potato being entered into the awards?…. What was not gluten-free about a potato? OK – it was nice potato but….
In fact it was indeed, just a baked potato – even if a cleverly marketed one…
So to our last two new judges, one of whom, Linden came in the morning, the other, Yohan did the desserts and chocolate in afternoon – and was determined that he was going to get a good mouthful while he was about it!!
It is really exciting to see how keen these kids are to try new foods – especially since many of them have had really bad experiences with foods in the past so would be expected to be quite nervous. However, trying them with their peers (and without their parents!) is a really good idea. They have no ‘ends to hold up’ with their parents while peer pressure, if everyone else is trying the foods, is very powerful. So Christine is very right to insist that their parents are not around. A proviso that the parents are happy to abide by as the kids are all Christine’s patients so they are confident that they will be in safe hands.
So, finally to Linden – our youngest judge ever at just five!! As you can see, he was slightly over-awed by the whole procedure but, bless him, and with a little help from his neighbours, he tasted away manfully and had some really good comments to make about what he tasted. He was very definite about what he liked and what he didn’t – and nothing wrong with that!!
And finally – nothing to do with the judging at all but….
Christine has two very splendid, rather rotund and elderly chickens who spent the whole of the judging sessions patrolling up and down outside the patio doors to the kitchen in the vain hopes that someone might give them something to eat! Finally after all was over Simeon took Tom outside so that he could meet them…..
The Childrens’ category is sponsored by Delamere Dairy.