I know we all have our horror politician stories but I think I’ve got one that will top the list of idiotic policy making. It was way back in time when I was living in New Zealand and ever since I was old enough to have a measure of understanding I learned that the world was about to run out of petrol. Any day. And it was 1976.
New Zealand has no natural resources of its own and so all fuel was imported and boy, did the politicians let us know. Every night the ‘Energy Crisis’ was on the news. In school we had to do projects and present our findings on large sheets of coloured cardboard about the energy crisis and possible solutions for this terrible predicament. Of course, there weren’t any solutions but mentioning none granted you a C- so we made up a few just to make sure we passed.
From what was reported on the news it was as if any day we could expect to once again be riding around in a horse and carriage with cars being made obsolete due to the world running out of fuel. And this was a long, long time ago. Petrol was so precious that one night there was an entire hour dedicated to this scarce commodity and the program mentioned how petrol had just jumped in price to a staggering and unaffordable $1.00/gallon (22c/ltr). Fear spread through the population and there was an outcry and many dinner parties were cancelled that Saturday night based on how everyone realised there was no way they could now afford to drive their car to and from their host’s home.
There wasn’t a lot more on the news other than the energy crisis except we did hear snippets of the latest boycott of the Springbok tour due to apartied, who Mohammad Ali had beaten to remain World Champion, why ABBA was only touring Australia and not New Zealand and how John Walker had won gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the 1500m (but the black African nations had boycotted the games due to the All Blacks tour of South Africa).
So the politicians, in power at The Beehive in Wellington and totally consumed with the imminent disaster of the country running out of fuel, came up with a scheme they believed was a solution. It was called, ‘Car-less Days’ and this short-lived scheme has not been repeated anywhere in the Western World ever since. I’m not sure how this scheme ever passed through parliament but how it worked was that your car had to be off the road for one day every week. Stickers were enforced on every vehicle showing the day the vehicle couldn’t be driven and hefty fines were handed out to anyone who drove around on their car-less day. Drivers in emergency services were given a reprieve as were those in the medical profession and the exemption sticker they were given to display on their cars was coveted like it was a large nugget of gold.
The bird-brain scheme was an utter failure. Instead of causing drivers to use less petrol it caused drivers to end up using more. That was because if you knew you had a car-less day coming up you would drive all over town doing all sorts of trips picking up things you thought you might need on that day you wouldn’t be allowed to use your car. Mothers who couldn’t drive on their car-less day would have their husbands drive home from work early, do all the running around with the children then drive back to work for an hour or so then drive back home again. Friends who had a friend with a car-less day would drive across town to help out that friend with her shopping or any errand then drive all the way back home again. And the ridiculous fear the government used to enforce this policy was that if anyone didn’t comply we would all be back in the horse and buggy.
That was 37 years ago and as far as I know, petrol has not run out in accordance with the ‘Energy Crisis’ propaganda of the day, no one in New Zealand is behind a horse instead of a wheel, and despite petrol being more expensive than ever, people still drive around in cars.
It’s not good to be wasteful but feeding people inaccurate information in order to induce fear is even worse.
The information I have at hand which happens to be completely true is that figs are now in season. I saw an abundance of fresh figs at the shops a few days ago and bought them up in a frenzy – just in case they might run out like the petrol of 1976! I didn’t know what to do with them so did a google and found a great recipe on SBS where you not only get the recipe but a short video tutorial as well. The pastry shell worked well for me because you didn’t need to use a food processor (you’re probably tired of me mentioning how I don’t have one), and there is no blind-baking of the shell either. This is a beautiful dessert and if figs aren’t in season in your neck of the woods, feel free to substitute another fruit that would work equally as well like strawberries.
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Nominal is you make this while figs are in season
- 10 figs, cut into wedges (alternatively, use 250g strawberries, cut in half)
- 110g butter, softened
- 110g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 240g flour
- 2.5g baking powder
- Vanilla bean (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 35g caster sugar
- 165ml pouring cream
- ½ tbsp kirsch
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
To make the sweet dough, combine the butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add the egg, and scrape down the sides. Add the dry ingredients and again scrape down the sides. Rest for 1 hour.
Roll out the dough, remembering to roll in different directions with your rolling pin. Carefully lay the pastry over a pastry ring, 20cm x 2cm, on a lined, flat baking tray, ensuring there are no cracks or holes in the pastry. If there are cracks, lightly bake the case blind for five minutes with baking beans. Egg wash the case and bake without the beans for a further 2 minutes.
For the clafoutis mix, crack the eggs into a bowl. Whisk in the caster sugar, followed by the cream and kirsch. Line the tart base with fresh figs, cut side up.
Pour over the clafoutis mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the clafoutis mix is just set.
This recipe is from SBS Baked Fig Tart Recipe.