THE look on his face said it all.
The preschooler had wanted a scary spider painted on his left cheek; he got a nondescript scrawl.
The black paint got mixed up with the other colours, meaning the scary, black spider looked more like a crumpled, brown huntsman someone had hit from a distance with a thong.
It was my daughter’s first primary school fete about six years ago, when I naively signed up for the kindergarten face-painting stall.
“How hard could it be?” was my first thought. I did Year 8 school art. There would be design patterns to follow. There’d be people on hand who actually knew how to draw.
I committed to one hour halfway through the twilight fete program. (In hindsight I should have waited until after dark!)
Turned out there were just three face-painters on the stall. It was the second session at the fete. The lengthy face-painting line stretched on for, well, forever.
After the spider incident, I tried to look busy but I had nowhere to hide with the queue growing by the minute.
I volunteered to go and find more clean water to wash out brushes but unfortunately there was plenty on tap.
My next customer wanted to be a princess.
I took her $2, knowing if Spiderman was unhappy, Princess Elsa was going to be way out of her comfort zone.
The cold might not have bothered her anyway, but I felt a cold front coming through pronto.
It was the longest hour of my short face-painting career, that day.
However, lesson learnt, I gravitated towards the fete bake stall in the following years.
I would happily camp on the cake stall for four hours if I didn’t have to wield a paint brush or glitter for a minute.
I took her $2, knowing if Spiderman was unhappy, Princess Elsa was going to be way out of her comfort zone. The cold might not have bothered her anyway, but I felt a cold front coming through pronto.
Two bake stalls down, now I’m staring down the barrel of the produce stall.
This, in itself, has been an education.
I had no idea it takes 2 kilograms of red onions to make five small jars of caramelized red onion jam.
There’s such a lot of blood, sweat and literally – tears – in small-batch operations.
Five batches of semi-dried tomato pesto yielded just 10 tiny jars and enough leftovers to toss through spaghetti for Meat-free Monday.
With some preserves in the bag, I wondered if I’d left my run too late to master fermentation.
I can’t stomach the sweet store-bought kombucha, but I will happily down kimchi.
I haven’t started a day without yoghurt since I left home 27 years ago such is the life of a Virgo. Granola plus Jalna natural yoghurt for years on end equals no hard decisions too early in the morning.
Most of us have been eating fermented foods our whole lives, maybe without even knowing it.
Not so much in a sauerkraut kind of way. Many of the everyday staples we take for granted – like wine, tea, cheese, bread and chocolate – are made using different fermentation processes. (Fascinatingly, that above-mentioned list makes up the bulk of my diet.)
According to a Google search: Fermentation in food processing is the process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms – yeasts or bacteria – under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation usually implies that the action of microorganisms is desired.
With our food processor out of action since 2008, I contemplated the enormous amount of chopping involved in getting fermentation off the blocks.
I tried to get my kids on board for a sauerkraut workshop and later even my husband.
“Pesto is one thing,” he says.
“But I’m drawing the line at pickling.”
This year when the Grade 2 teachers sent out a note seeking helpers for the face-painting stall, I didn’t have to chew it over too much.
I volunteered my husband for a 45-minute slot halfway through the twilight fete.
“I’m tied up on the produce stall,” I say.
“And you’re really good at drawing lines on things.”