Tuesday 06 Dec 2016

Thick and Quick
David Simmonds

County economic development officials can barely conceal their excitement over a new initiative coming to our 'creative rural' economy.

The final paperwork touches are now being completed and the sod is to be turned next spring for Ontario's first "arachiderie" . If all goes according to plan, a crop will be harvested late next summer. and locallly sourced,. estate grown peanut butter will be introduced at the 2010 "Taste' showcase event.

"Peanut butter?," you ask skeptically. Yes, indeed. The County is diversifying from grapes to an agricultural product more commonly associated with children and supermarkets than adults and upscale marketing campaigns.

The first question is, of course, why? Let's ask the man on the spot, Dan Quackenbush, proprietor of the eponymous Quackenbush Butteryards Arachideirie. "It's quite simple, really," he told the Wellington Times in an exclusive and extensive interview. "Discerning tourists are dropping big dollars in The County. But wine toursism is for adults only. We don't want to miss out on the 'adults with kids' market. So why not offer something to the kids in a way that would appeal to their parents."

"On top of that." Quackenbush added,, "peanuts are a legume and legumes are hot health food". And on that, he is right. According to the Peanut Institute (PBI), eating peanut butter may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and help lower blood cholestorol. Indeed, Prevention magazine recently featured an article titled 'The Amazing Peanut Butter Diet."

Let's move on to the 'how'. Aren't peanuts grown around Georgia by people named Carter? "Surprising as it may seem," said Quackenbush, "we've done our archival research and discovered that about 100 years ago there was quite a hive of peanut growing actvity in the northwest end of the County". He explained that the County's unique microclimate, combined with a local soil known as 'Ameliasburgh Mud' in fact produces ideal conditions in a short growing season. "The introduction of wind turbines will help crop growth immensely," he noted.

Indeed, so confident is he in the success of his venture that he is keeping a diary, and has engaged local author Jake Hooker to write an up to the minute history tentatively entitled 'An idiot and 15 hectares'.

He is also predicting a flood of interest from urban buyers who are looking to realize upon their dream of one day owning an arachiderie - all of which could be music to the ears of Ameliasburgh area landowners.

Quackenbush explained that his off-grid, 100% organic, fair trade, operation will be "taking the best elements of Starbucks and McDonalds". Enthusiastic young 'arachitas' will take orders and yell out customer choices to equally enthusiastic young preparers,who will yell out "one grande chunkee with sugar free cherry jelly on white no crust", or something similar, once the order is ready. And children under 16 will be given a prize with each order: a miniature bobblehead doll of a County muncipal councillor. After five are collected, customers will be given a bonus Mayor Leo Finnegan bobblehead. "We want to offer excitement, and incentives", explained Quackenbush. "At the same time, we'll be training the wine snobs of the future."

Among the products offered will be cookies, brownies, crackers and, breads, as well as jams and jellies ("all locally sourced", he added), to serve as the presentation base for his estate grown butters. In addition to smooth, chunky and rubble mixtures, there will be choices of extra adhesive, non adhesive and regular contact strength; as well as oily, extra whipped and regular viscosity. Gourmet blends of lavender butter , heritage tomato and pinot noir butter are under development and according to Quackenbush are "close to being edible."

"We look forward to having a tasting bar. I've already compiled a dictionary of peanut butter tasting terminology. 'Nutty' may work for wine put it doesn't cut it with peanut butter or teenage kids."

Quackenbush is also committed to hiring a master arachidier - the equivalent of a high ranking vintner. "In fact," he said, "we're in serious negotiations with a person who has worked for both Kraft and Skippy as well as some major private estates in Alabama. These people are highly sought after."

He also predicted that, just as with wineries, the County will have to develop a policy regulating 'estate' peanut butteries as distinct from 'farm' operations; and that the Province may have to initiate a form of 'PBQA' to ensure consumers can be confident they are buying qualty and a minimum content of estate grown peanuts "We don't want people mixing sludge from offshore with a few locally grown peanuts and passing it off as County quality," he said.

And as for the non peanut butter lover? Quackenbush wasn't entirely without hope. "While there are few people in the world who dislike peanut butter and most of those who do have some form of arrested personality development," he said sternly, "I am in talks with a rice pudding concern about opening a companion ricepuddingerie.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin, the late Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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