Taking It To America

Notable Accomplishments of Five Lakers

Beyond Our Blessed Shores




by Myles Aveigh


    Three local writer/chefs from the Five Lakes area were honored at the 92nd “Words of Wisdom Essay Event-Great Oven Stuffing Hash Contest,” hosted annually by the Lower Hudson Preservation Society.

    As area residents know, W.O.W.E.E.-G.O.S.H. winners must be able to literally demonstrate that their efforts pan out on the plate as well as on the printed page.

    The contest was begun almost a century ago to welcome itinerant “beaver chasers” from across the border who regularly traversed the area as they scattered their traps and hoped to be able to make the treasured “laid ‘em all” claim while following the hunting season south from Trois-Rivieres to Trenton. 

    Once they were out of traps and vittles, the hunters would spend a few days enjoying local hospitality and restocking in the Delaware Valley, then turn back north and offer tales of warm fur and fine eating after conquering beavers of all sizes and temperaments, as they peddled their catch all the way to Montreal and beyond.

    In keeping with the spirit of the contest’s founding good will, all rules, regulations and awards are printed in Canadian as well as English.

    The competition draws thousands of attendees and each year accepts only 200 entries based on both literary and recipe proposals which, within each entry, must somehow connect or complement each other.

    Over the years, the literary end of the contest has expanded to include fiction, and the cooking portion now allows cupcakes and calamari as well as the historic hash dish.

    We are proud to announce this year’s honorees from the Five Lakes community:

    Brooke Karpstein won third place in the short story/stuffing hash category. “My Mother, My Trout” presents the emotional awakening of a teenage girl who learns that her mother has had a long affair with a fly-rod reel, as an attempt to fill the void left by her father’s sugar cube-art obsession.  And judges who praised the story for its “untangled prose that lures the reader in” and “emotional hooks that land the heart” were equally enthusiastic about Ms. Karpstein’s “daring use of canned tuna, fresh salmon and smoked trout in the same recipe” for her “Three Filets Stuffing Hash.”

    Manny Yorio took second place in the personal essay/cupcake category.  His “Cap’N Crunch & Combo’s” cupcakes impressed judges with their “salty sweet post-nostalgia neo-realism,” as did his essay, “Breaking China, Not Bread,” which tried to make sense out of a childhood in which his grandmother attempted to smash his cereal bowl every morning in protest of modern-day processed food.  “A paean to respect for elders, no matter how nutso they happen to be,” commented one judge.

    Tanya Bashline was awarded Best of Category for her “Burn Down The Studios” essay and “Rings of Fire” recipe in the political commentary/calamari category.  Although Ms. Bashline’s contention that “everyone who has anything to do with today’s cable news channels should be shot and then stabbed and then dragged along the bottom of the ocean until their skeletons fall apart” was deemed “perhaps one step too close to advocating violence with less than discriminate justification,” judges nevertheless unanimously agreed with “the core relevance of a proposal long overdue,” and found her six-chili calamari “a meaningful extension of Ms. Bashline’s commitment to go for the throat if you’re going at all.”

    Echo Decree was disappointed when she lost a chance at a ribbon because even though her account of an anonymous serial QVC shopper, “God Made Everything For Me,” was adjudged best in the category of neurotic profile/cupcakes, her “Marshmallow Cloud and Chocolate Coins” cupcakes fell flat when she accidentally spilled a mug of apple cider on them as she pulled them from the oven.  But she showed the kind of circumspection that defines a fine writer’s sensibility when she quipped, “I think I actually like them better this way, and now I don’t have to share.”


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