A small grassed area has been filled with a local market garden event. Pristine white tents are dotted around selling all kinds of interesting things at the annual tomato festival. There are food stalls selling stone baked pizzas, cheese stalls and ice-cream vans. There are chutney and chilli stalls and a probiotic health drink stall, selling homemade brew in large wine like bottles.
But in pride of place are the tomato growers. The tomato stall from Harris’ Farm is full of natures bounty. I have never seen so many different varieties of tomatoes before; different colours and shapes. They are sold in punnets and you can pick and mix them. It is doing a roaring trade.
Beside this is a beautiful and intricate mandala made entirely out of tomatoes. (A mandala is an Indian pattern.) There is a competition to guess how many tomatoes have been used to create the pattern. I guessed 9,551. Unfortunately, I won’t be here for the result, but I enjoyed making the guess. (I think that I may have underestimated!)
One of the most interesting things about the festival are the ladies serving behind the stalls and their interactions with their customers. Straw-boat hats and white clothes are the current fashion in tomato land. They are approachable, friendly and obviously enjoy what they are doing.
Welcome smiles greet you and the warmth of them lets you know that all’s well with the world. Their knowledge and expertise are grounded and not to be sniffed at. Low murmurs from the cooking demonstration tent filter through and apparently, lemon noodles seem to be very popular now in Australian cooking. Regrettably, I missed the talk on how to use tomatoes in desserts!
Groups of people; families with young children, families with mixed generations and a disabled group complete with wheel-chairs and carers settle in the sunshine to enjoy their lunch. We had a stone-baked pizza and made to order with no cheese. And very tasty it was too! This was followed by homemade chocolate and hazelnut ice-cream! Perfection!
There is something for everyone and the atmosphere is happy. I had my photograph taken wearing a tomato helmet!
When in Australia...?
A step away and a large marquee stretches out, brilliant white against a backdrop of blue waters. The longest tomato lunch is to take place in a few minutes. The event is sold out, according to two lovely ladies, whom we spoke to. They were friendly and we smiled as they too were dressed in white! A short conversation later and we wander away to find a bench to chill on. Philip sketches and I write; in perfect harmony and synchronicity.
The inscription on the back of the bench is lovely;
May the sun always shine
Warmly upon your face;
Until we meet again.
To life and love!
And so, say we all!