OPINION: Bless. Like a wee boy teetering around in his dad's gumboots, or a young girl standing proudly in her big sister's clothes, Timaru is holding up some 200,000 cheese rolls, made in South Canterbury schools since the beginning of the year, to support the touchingly naive contention that by golly it must now the country's capital for the savoury delights.
A couple of hundred thousand. Well it's a start, isn't it? Something to be getting on with, until they get the hang of it.
But can we gently point out that if you can count them, you're not making nearly enough,
What's more, even the nation's most high ranking tally-upper, Finance Minister Bill English, stands ready to explain that the true inadequacy of the Timaru claim doesn't really lie in those frankly unprepossessing numbers.
Southland has the tradition, the taste, the atmosphere. As Nelson's mud oysters compare to Bluff's finest, so South Canterbury cheese rolls compare to ours.
That's not to say that their facsimilies are entirely without merit. Clearly they are proving a useful wee fundraiser for the locals.
Five years ago this month, Southland Times columnist Pat Veltkamp Smith was noting that much as Southland does well with the multi-million-dollar annual grants from the Invercargill Licensing Trust and the Community Trust of Southland, on the human scale where it really counts, cheese rolls remain the greatest fundraiser.
That remains the case; and for good reason. We have mastered the art of combining social benefit, culinary satisfaction and a profound celebration of our heritage; all rolled up in each buttery finger.
And as recently as last month, Invercargill cafe Zookeepers changed its menu after a mere 21 years. A bit flighty of them, but there you go. They introduced chimichangas and such. Yet in spite of the madness, cheese rolls still took their irreplaceable position of honour.
Northerners - even those communities that are in denial about being northern - are fully entitled to take whatever benefits and enjoyment they can from whatever the hell it is they end up with when they roll cheesy stuff in bread. But say it plain. Genuine cheese rolls are endemic to Southland.
- The Southland Times
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