Often when you take too many photos of someone preparing food it makes them uncomfortable. They usually ask you what you’re doing in a suspicious tone of voice. Occasionally though, you get a positive responses to your interest. Recently when I was taking a lot of photos I was given a business card in case I wanted more information. Charlie Yan, fruit carver, obviously wasn’t shy about performing in public. He put on a good show, and drew a crowd of spectators even though he was competing with all sorts of other entertainment.
In addition to fruit carving, the Campsie Food Festival featured cooking demonstrations and food from around the world. There was a Vietnamese cooking demonstration for adults and fruit skewer making sessions for kids. The children were given little aprons to wear while they threaded an assortment of brightly coloured fruit pieces onto satay sticks. Funnily, most of them never completed an entire skewer. They found the fruit too tempting and ate it long before their skewers were finished. It was wonderful watching their faces as they concentrated on the job of threading the fruit, not to mention their pleasure in eating it.
The crowds on Beamish Street didn’t reach their peak until after midday, so in the morning it was possible to get close enough to the stalls to watch the food being prepared. There were pans of boiling oil for preparing spiral shaped potatoes on sticks and barbeques crowded with satay sticks and sausages. Hungarian pastries, Dutch profiterjes and French crepes competed with Indonesian casava cakes and red bean cakes for the attention of sweet-toothed customers.
A Chinese marching band dressed in rather outlandish costumes came down the road playing their drums. There was also a South American pan pipe band. My favourite entertainment was the food preparation and demonstrations though. The ladies rolling out Turkish Gözleme were great to watch as they rolled and filled the pastries with spinach and fetta. Served piping hot with a squeeze of lemon the gözleme attracted a long queue at lunchtime.
My favourite act was definitely the fruit carving though. It’s just amazing to watch. As well as the colourful watermelons I was impressed with the Queensland Blue pumpkins. They’re so hard to cut up just for eating that it must be quite a feat to carve roses into them. Maybe you need strength as well as artistic talent to carve fruit – or a very sharp knife at least.