Friday, September 26, 2008

Eight-hundred barbecues and 1636 cooks

We have over the years eaten picnics in some odd places. We could not always choose where to sit when we were researching the Swiss cycle touring guide, for example and so our picnic spots were many and varied: a bus shelter in a major city in the rain and road side picnic table with a view of the Eiger as examples. However we have never cooked and eaten lunch on the steps of a town hall along with several hundred others. One of the local radio stations Radio Regenbogen (Rainbow Radio) has been issuing challenges to each of the smaller towns hereabout at 07:07 each morning: One particular community needed to produce 1000 bras; another needed to recreate the Oktoberfest including Japanese tourists taking photographs; another needed to recreate the story of the Princess and the pea with a hundred mattresses and a young woman in princess gear. In each case it is important that several hundred or even a thousand people turn up. If the town wins the bet a community organisation wins a few thousand € to buy something new.
Yesterday Viernheim was challenged to have a grill party with at least 500 barbecues and each with two cooks. In addition a cook from a restaurant with at least one star should be present. (He came from a Mannheim restaurant, having heard the challenge on the radio.) This should be in place by 12:00. We found a dusty grill in the greenhouse and managed as well to find an ancient bag of charcoal briquettes. These were popped in the bike trailer and we cycled to the Apostelplatz in front of the town hall. We remembered to take some matches and some food:  four sausages, a pepper and two tomatoes. The square was full: Gas grills, electric grills, charcoal grills, and some bright spark had bought about two hundred disposable picnic grills. The town's butchers supplied sausages and the bakers rolls. We found room almost on the steps of the town hall and set up the grill. With a bit of trouble we got the grill to fire up and made lunch. Viernheim to be honest fought dirty and the kids at various schools and kindergartens were brought to the event or in the case of the secondary schools the kids were given a couple of hours off, various companies gave their employees a couple of hours off. This meant that the 1000 visitor limit was soon exceeded. At 12:00 the DJs from the morning programme arrived and agreed that we had met their challenge. One of the kindergartens will get 3000 € to buy a canopy for over its play area. We all ate our lunch and then put the still glowing charcoal briquettes in a bin, supervised by a member of the junior section of the volunteer fire brigade who had great fun spraying them with water from time to before we left for home to wash our smoke impregnated clothing. 

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