A big thanks to Ant Stansbie from Hitchin for writing this article for the blog!
So..Saturday morning...Mum’s at work and I’m on Daddy duty, pondering how to entertain our 4yo, Ben, for the day. I’ve got the early morning covered with our obligatory visit to Halseys Deli for Jammy toast and a beverage (latte for Dad, water for Ben). The afternoon is also sorted, with a visit to Top Field to watch Hitchin Town take on Bashley....today has been designated nationally and informally as Non-League Day.....with no Premiership or Championship matches being played due to a number of International matches being played, English Non-League teams are taking the opportunity to try and tap into the vast number of supporters of top flight clubs who are at an unexpected loose end this Saturday afternoon. Ben and I decide to go and lend our support to the newly promoted Canaries....although I suspect that Ben has only been persuaded by the promise of a half-time hotdog!!
Anyway...I digress! What to do with the the gaping lunch-time shaped hole in our schedule!? I’d read something about the start of Hitchin Food & Drink week on the various social media sites, and a flick through The Advertiser confirmed that it all kicked off on Saturday....and lo and behold, Saturdays schedule was aimed almost exclusively at kids.....perfect!
We hit the town square at a little after 1:00pm, and made a bee-line for the rows of plastic seats laid out in front of the bright red Creative Kitchen stand, where two young volunteers were busy piling handfuls of ingredients onto pizza bases, whilst a very jolly and composed lady (called Sally or Sarah I think!) from an organisation called Little Munchers guided them through which toppings to add next, gave the assembled masses a running commentary on proceedings,and generally passed out great advice, simple cooking and nutrition tips and nutrition for little ones, whilst doing battle at the same time with a couple of very persistent wasps which were trying to muscle in on the action.
In no time at all, the first couple of pizzas were ready for the oven which was hidden under the makeshift counter, and Sally (or Sarah) was looking for a fresh pair of volunteers! Sensing an opportunity to keep Ben busy for a few minutes, whilst also solving the problem of what to feed him for lunch, I urged Ben to stick his hand up which he did (to be fair, he’s generally not backward in coming forward is our Ben!) and before you could say “Ready, Steady, Cook!”, he was up on stage wrapped in a very fetching apron with his head just about visible over the top of the counter. Sally / Sarah plopped a ball of pizza dough in front of him and another young lad called Sonny, and urged them both to bash and roll it flat using their hands and a suitably kiddie sized rolling pin. A splash of passata was liberally smeared on next, followed by the toppings which were arranged in a number of little white bowls. Big chunks of mozzerala and fresh bits of pepper and mushrooms were added, although Ben was having none of it when Sally / Sarah
tried to foist a few slices of pepperoni on him!! Into the oven went the two pizzas, whilst Sally / Sarah conducted a little Q&A session with an off-stage event organiser.
Ten minutes later, and the pizzas were out of the oven, and ready to be judged by the, by now, good sized crowd. Neither pizza would have won any prizes for appearance, but they did look and smell tasty. Ben lost out in the voting to Sonny, but both went away happy as all the on stage volunteers were rewarded with some nice prizes for their effort! Ben and I retired to the churchyard to share his pizza which did turn out to be very tasty.
Having polished off the pizza, we headed back into the town square, just in time for the start of the next event, which was again aimed at the little ones, with a couple of characters from CBeebies “In The Night Garden”, Iggle Piggle and Uppsy Daisy making an appearance much to the delight of what was by now a sizeable number of young children. Ben is getting a little old for ITNG now, but not too old that he couldn’t blag a cuddle off Iggle Piggle!
We couldn’t stay too long as Top Field was calling, but as we left the square (with a box of cupcakes from Hitchins finest cupcakers Crumbly Wumbly, who had set up a stall for the day), the kids were really getting into a food related quiz game with the two CBeebies characters!
All in all, it was a very entertaining hour or so, and a great kickoff for what promises to be a great week of celebrating Hitchin Food & Drink if this was anything to go by!