was sitting on a balding field in Queens watching my first cricket
match, a couple of kids came by, handing out laminated postcards
advertising the first-ever New York Duck Curry Contest. First
prize was $1000 and a trophy, plus bragging rights for the rest
of your life that your curry was judged best on 3 criteria:
taste, texture and aroma.
So, on the Sunday before Labor Day, I went out to meet some
of the contestants and sample their recipes. Under tents set
up around the perimeter of patchy grass, the cooks got down
to business, sauteeing onions, mixing spices, chopping duck
and keeping the pots boiling at just the right temperature.
Children flew kites and got their faces painted by a clown while
the grown-ups drank rum and everyone shouted over the Angel
Caribbean Band, playing on an elevated stage set up in the center
of the field.
In all, there were 39 cooks entered in the competition, and
by the time the judging began at 3:30, the tables under the
tents had been decorated and each cook's prized curry simmered