Consider the prune
Consider the humble prune: for decades the butt of jokes, now the darling behind such headlines as “Are Your Grandmother’s Prunes the New Superfood?” and “Channel 4 …Names Prunes as ‘the Food of the Future’.” Larry Curdle has, and he sees a big opportunity.
Readers will remember Mr. Curdle as the moving force behind the ambitious (but ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to establish a Rice Pudding Hall of Fame in Wellington. Now, Mr. Curdle wants to see Wellington host a new annual festival celebrating the importance of the prune in today’s contemporary lifestyle. The Times caught up with him last week, and we got an earful.
“First of all, let’s get one thing on the table. Prunes, if you didn’t know, are dried plums. Pound for pound, they’re as good for you as anything else you can name,” he says. They contain lots of vitamin A, which improves your vision. They are full of antioxidants. They are high in potassium, which is good for the heart and bones. They contain fibre and sorbital, which act as a great laxative. They are loaded with iron— and boron and copper and vitamin K. And they taste good too.
“Here, try some,” he says, offering me me a bowl loaded to the gills with the blackish coloured deliacy. Not wanting to offend my host, I gingerly remove a prune from the bowl and ingest it. To my surprise, it is sticky and sweet and chewy. Not bad at all. I reach for another. I feel an elevated sense of regularity almost immediately.
But why a prune festival in Wellington? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it in, say, California, the source of most of the plums that will transform, butterfly- like, into prunes? Or even somewhere in the Okanagan?
“I’ve looked into that,” asserts Curdle “And I found they did have a California Prune Festival, in Yuba City, which got started in 1988. Then in 2001, they changed the name to the California Dried Plum festival, but they closed it down the next year. I guess you can’t put lipstick on a pig and expect it to be anything other than s pig. So for the last 15 years, no one has stepped up to the plate—either in Canada or the States. I say we’re just as entitled as anywhere else to go for a Prunefest—centred here in Wellington of course. Maybe our experience in the canning business gives us some legitimacy as well.”
[Reporter’s note. I checked the Internet. Mr. Curdle appears to be right. As consolation, you might consider traveling to England to attend the Pershore Plum Festival on the weekend of August 25, 2018; it’s a four-time winner of “Best Festival and Event” in Worcestershire.]
So why should the County host another festival, and why should Wellington face the prospect of yet another parade?
“That’s an easy one.” he replies. “Think of the synergies: prunes and wine; prunes and epicurean recipes; prunes and bachelorette parties; prunes and Fibre Fest. The County has such a reputation for being trendy, we could probably get away with holding a carbolic soap festival: people will just assume it’s good because it comes from the County. If the County goes prune, so will most of the rest of civilization.
“And as for more parades, why not play to your strengths? Wellington already boasts a vibrant regularity community, so there’d be interest from the get-go. Plus, Wellington is already known for its giant vegetable parades. Having an extra parade with fruit would be a piece of cake, especially when you consider that you have no problems with transporting giant prunes. We could have a Prune King and Queen headline the parade. We could dress a troop of baton twirlers in colourful prune costumes. We could offer prune snacks to paraders, which might help the parade move along briskly. Heck, there’s no limit on what we can do!”
Mr. Curdle’s enthusiasm is palpable; his optimism unshakeable. Let’s hope his ideas bear some fruit— even if it is only dried fruit. And who knows, maybe his new project will make the Rice Pudding Hall of Fame seem like a sensible proposal.