Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Joy of Artichoke Throwing ! ! !

Just a couple of posts down here a sign for the 2nd Annual World Championship of Artichoke Throwing was published for your edification and entertainment. Lest anyone might have thought the sign in question was merely an elaborate artichoke farce, here now at last (I know you have been waiting with great impatience) is proof to the contrary. In the tiny Brittany village of Henvic, located in the rich agricultural plains and ideal artichoke growing land just to the south of Saint Pol de Leon, artichoke throwing has become a major attraction. A colorful hand painted sign was affixed to the barriers separating the crowd of easily 100 earnest observers from the artichoke throwing ring . . .
.




































To help get the crowd into the proper mood for the event a trio of Brittany musicians playing traditional pipe and drum music whipped the observers into a frenzy of cheers . . .
.




































The green-robed artichoke elders were present to observe that all was conducted in the proper manner of artichoke atmosphere with due respect to the noble vegetable . . .
.






































T-shirts had been produced for the members of the staff to wear, this one saying "l'Artichaut Vole", which means "the Artichoke Flies" . . .
.





































There were trophies lined up which would be handed out to the winning teams, and also helmets were available to any contestants who did not wish to affront the flying artichokes without head protection, which as you will soon see, was a valid concern . . .
.






































A considerable stock of artichokes had been strategically placed near the throwing end of the ring, ready to become airborne . . .
.




































The contest was open to both male and female contestants, each team comprised of two people, one who would throw the artichokes in an underhand motion similar to pitching a softball, the second who would catch the flying artichokes in a large basket held by two straps on their back. This woman demonstrates excellent artichoke tossing form here, with the throwing arm artfully raised toward the sky, having just released a green orb, her right leg extended back for counter-balance. Her partner at the far end of the pitch is already reacting to position the basket on her back at just the right position to receive the artichoke on the downward end of its trajectory . . .
.





































The goal of the contest is to throw the largest number possible of artichokes into the receiving basket in the space of one minute. Each team has two one-minute periods in which to produce their best result, and the team members may trade roles for each of the minute-long artichoke pitching sessions, the pitcher may become the receiver and vice versa, if they so chose, as this team did. It is clearly quite a remarkably difficult enterprise to keep a steady flow of flying artichokes in the air while not overwhelming the catcher, or forcing the catcher to run too far or perform too many artichoke catching contorsions. The thrower must stay within a small area defined by orange marks on the grass, and the catcher must stay beyond an orange line on the far end of the ring. I could tell it was no mean feat to succeed in this grueling vegetable throwing competition. I suspect I may need to practice quite a bit before thinking seriously about signing up for next year's event, the 3rd annual world chamionship . . .
.




































This pair of gentlemen were the winners from last year's first annual championship. During this first minute of their session they succeeded in tossing no less than thirty artichokes into the basket. Imagine that ! That is one artichoke in the basket over 30 feet away every two seconds ! Last year they won the event with a score of 34 artichokes in the basket in one minute. They worked together in extreme precision, if you look carefully at the photo you can see that there are two artichokes in the air simultaneously, and the thrower is already preparing to toss a third. He was quick as greased lightning in picking up a handful of artichokes from the bin at his side, and tossing them with a liquid motion that clearly was the result of many long hours of artichoke throwing practice; he made his receiver's job easier by tossing nearly every artichoke along the same smooth trajectory at the end of which they descended gently into the basket. He was a true artichoke throwing artist . . .
.





































If the artichokes were thrown too low, the catcher would be forced to stoop to catch them, no easy task with such a large basket on one's back, producing grimaces of effort exerted. The artichoke here is a green blur just about to sail into the receptacle . . .
.





































This young lady was clearly enjoying every successful catch, but as you can see from the artichokes on the ground behind her, they were not all ending up in the basket like this one was going to . . .
.




































The contestant shown here made several exciting leaping catches with outspread arms to save an artichoke thrown a bit too far. I also saw him receive one of the heavy vegetables directly on the top of his head, which must have smarted, as he had decided against donning a helmet . . .
.



































.
.

46 comments:

cieldequimper said...

Extra ! Mais j'attends quand même le photo-reportage sur le championnat du monde du cracher du bigorneau !

Rosie said...

This is what I call a real fiesta! Great photos.

Patricia said...

Owen,
I think that you have the title for a new blog, L'artichaut vole! Thank you for this marvelous posting about fun and games.

Fin said...

What a fun post Owen, and fun photos. Wish I had an artichoke and someone to throw it at right now.

Meg

James said...

Hello from wet,rainy Pennsylvania.
I love the sign and the pictures. This event is kind of a trip, but looks really fun as do most events that include the throwing of vegetables or the rolling of cheese. It's kind of funny but I just woke from a dream in which I was looking at your blog. Then out of the blue I'm actually doing it.
I think I've tapped into some hidden Collective consciousness of the blogosphere. :-)

À la prochaine.

Steve said...

If only wars could be settled this way... what a much better world it would be!

henk van es said...

Hi Owen, Of course I believed you when talking in your first post about artichoke throwing..but now there are the pictures to show the championship in reality. I admire your conscientious description of the game, the rules, the arbiters, the prizes, and so on. This is excellnt reporting and gives all the colour to the event. And by the way, the artichokes themselves are of the best quality one can imagine, wish we had these in the supermarket overhere in Amsterdam.
Enjoy your weekend

louciao said...

Crazy fun, Blowen-in-the-Wind!
Too bad you couldn't have nicked that hand-painted poster--it would look fantastic framed! That red-haired drummer boy is rather attractive...(I'm thinking for my daughter, not me--but I've warned her off musicians). The picture of the grimacing boy catcher is priceless! (I don't mean "boy catcher" as in snagging boys, but boy-catching-artichokes...no, that sounds like the artichokes are trapping boys...the fellow with a funny look on his face catching artichokes...now it sounds like he's catching them with his face...Third picture from the end!) Would he be the Catcher in the Rye by any chance? (insert groan here). Speaking of rye, I wonder when Saj will turn up...

Hurricane Bill is promising to bless us with 40 mm of rain on Sunday and blow a bit. I will welcome some rain. My west coast genes are thirsting, as are the plants. We're 45 mins. from any coast so don't have to worry too much about surges. (Thanks for arsking).

Savour the frabjous days, Blowen. Thanks for taking the time to share them here. Bises.

Caroline said...

Oh my gosh! It's Jeux sans Frontiers all over again!! What fun and fab photos!! I love, love that first one of the artichoke - what a beautiful illustration - the colours are amazing! Super post - thank you!

Dedene said...

Artichoke throwing is far more interesting than I'd have imagined! What precise, difficult rules as well. Worse than rugby!
Did you get a T-shirt? That would be so cool!

Looking at the picture of last year's winners, I believe the pitcher's foot was out of bounds and should have received a penalty.

CrazyCris said...

La vache!!!

My poor, poor artichokes! What are they doing to my favourite vegetable?!

Flying artichokes? Oh my!!!

Although to be honest, any artichokes hanging around at this time of the year aren't really worth eating (waaay to tough!) so you might as well have fun with them! I'd better start practicing for next year! :p

Alberto Oliver said...

I hate artichokes. Wish i could take part of that competition in order to take revenge against that vegetable foes. Nice to have you back again to blogging activity Owen.

the watercats said...

Some excellent action photography there, lol, the face!.. also the picture of the band.. my lord, but that's a ginger lad!
also love the banner, that's almost a masterpiece looking thing! and I want a go on launching artichokes, it seems like one of those things every human should do before they die..

Cynthia said...

It seems like a lot of fun! I never heard of such a contest :-) I would love to grow (maybe throw) artichokes...and maybe learn to eat them steamed (I like the hearts in a jar!-sounds strange-I know!)...but they are just pretty...like little sculptured table arrangements.

robert said...

Superb photography.
With the birthday of my son coming up, I guess, I found the game we will play.
By the way, did you throw one on your own?

Laurie said...

Watch out! I aaaaaaaaaaaaaaam back! More seriously, or not? I thought your post was very arty and almost choked with amazement when I read it. Fancy people engaging in such a thing - has the RSPCA been involved? [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Artichokes] Owen, you are going to be in such trouble!
Kind regards
Laurie

Sar@h said...

J'ai tout lu !
Découvrir ici ce qui se passe à côté de chez moi !
Je suis revenue, si jamais … vous êtes toujours en villégiature.

Jean said...

Quelle belle série de photos !
Non seulement elles sont belles , mais quelle vie , quelle joie !
Une vraie leçon de VIE .

Marguerite said...

Looks like they are all having a lot of fun. These are fantastic photos that make me feel like I'm actually there. I especially like the banner, the band, and the crowd pics. Great post, Owen!

AmyR said...

It makes me really happy to know that this happens somewhere in the world. :D Too much fun! Thanks for all the wonderful photos.

Janie said...

Funny and definitely unusual. Looks like great uninhibited entertainment.

ladydi said...

This looks like amazing fun! In our part of the world the pumpkin flies.

kj said...

owen, i think this is a riot. i'm partial to artichokes except their thorns, and i can see how their little handles make it easy to throw them.

do you know i am friends with a little rabbit named emily who throws frozen peas when frustrated?

owen, are you going to be some rich guy who lives in a castle and is either reclusive or he shows up in his neighborhood only a couple of times a year, one of which is to open his doors for a lavish new year's eve party?

inquiring minds may want to know...

:)

nathalie in avignon said...

Owen what a brilliant story!
I laughed my head off at some of your photos and the whole concept is an ode to the Breton sense of humor - and sense of fun.

I wonder how many other odd festivals and contests there are out there?

Thanks for turning up in Avignon, nice to see you back :-)

I enjoyed my week in Brittany tremendously too. I was near la Trinité-sur-mer and enjoyed fantastic weather with long walk along the beaches, the côte sauvage de Quiberon and the fantastic island of Houat. Brittany is truly a magnificent region.

helmets for all? said...

I wonder if the spectactors were at risk? Did any artichokes end up in the crowd? Seeing how close they are behind the "receiver" I presume it could happen?

K'line Bloom said...

Hello Owen,
Incroyable histoire !
Personnellement, je préfère leur usage plus traditionnel, l'effeuillage "à la vinaigrette" ;-))
Amitiés,
K'line

Peter said...

Looks like real fun! (What happens to the artichokes afterwards, a big eating fiesta?)

jeff said...

Tu m'étonnes qu'il fasse du lancer d'artichauts en bretagne... Ils sont pas un peu anglais sur les bords !...
Devrez s'essayer dans le lancer de canettes...:-)
Ciao amigo !... Au moins, j'ai appris un truc aujourd'hui !...et merci qui ? Merci m'sieur Owen !

Loulou said...

My oh my! I could'nt believe it....until you shared your pics with us..... no comment....
Take care and as shared via tel, let's keep in touch when I return to India
Loulou

Owen said...

Bonjour Ciel de Quimper, marrant, j'ai entendu parler de cet evenement du cracher du bigorneau, mais il va falloir que je me renseigne pour l'année prochaine. Je pense que cela à lieu à Sibiril, juste à coté de St Pol, mais à vérifier... les rochers dans la mer à Carantec étaient bourrés de bigorneaux cet été, donc ce n'est pas la matière brut qui manque... à suivre ! Cela doit être amusant de cracher des bigorneaux !
:-D

==========

Rosie, it was indeed a fiesta, gangs of fun !

==========

Hi Patricia, The Flying Artichokes... as Dave Barry in Miami likes to say, it might be a good name for a rock band, or as you say, for a blog... :-)

===========

Meg, you'll have to head for the closest market then that has artichokes... hmmm, hopefully it is a friend you'll be throwing them to ? These things could hurt if thrown with malice on the mind... :-)

==========

Hi James, was that the outer influence of Bill that was making rain fall on Pennsylvania ? Out of all the things people have said about this humble little blog over the past several months that it has picked up a small bit of momentum, you are the first person to say you were dreaming about it... wow... I don't know what that means, but surely something...

Owen said...

Steve, totally agree with you... can you imagine if George Bush and Saddam Hussein had had to face off and hurl artichokes at each other, instead of having a "war" which has claimed tens of thousands of lives, mosly Iraqi civilians ?

=========

Hi Henk ! Thanks so much ! It was a really enjoyable event, alot of fun to do this small reporting job on. Hopefully you can find some decent artichokes somewhere in Holland ?!? Otherwise you'll just have to make a quick trip to Brittany to bring some back, there are tons of them here. Great to hear from you...

==========

Dear Lynne, Guess it was you that was blowing in the wind this weekend, I hear Bill is now heading out across the Atlantic to come pay a visit in the British Isles... hmmm, is it going to make it to France ??? Hope you all didn't get too soaked. Ah, so you liked the red head ? And the catchers, whether in the rye or not... haven't any sign of the Saj here yet, maybe caught by the rye herself ??? Oh Frabjous days... am certainly savouring them, as next week it's back to work again, hi ho, hi ho... vacation is so good while it lasts... Well, watch out for flying artichokes... (wasn't that a Dylan song... "Come she said I'll give you, shelter from the artichokes"... You definitely don't want to catch them in the face...
:-D

===========

Hi Caroline, you are more than welcome... many thanks !

===========

Salut Dedene, I'm not sure the t-shirts were for sale, they were giving them to staff people, but I didn't see any get sold... all I was able to get a few days later was a paper sign that was still up in a neighboring town... As long as the pitcher stayed behind the forward orange line, I don't think they were too concerned if a back foot was behind the back line...

=========

Hi CrazyCris, la vache indeed ! Ah, an artichoke lover ! I don't think many of them were seriously bruised by being heaved, except for a few that lost a few leaves when landing on the edge of the basket... you're right, it's a bit early in the season, except maybe for some from greenhouses ?

Owen said...

Hi Alberto Oliver, sorry to hear you hate artichokes, they can be very friendly to one's taste buds... if savoured with hot butter... But then I understand, beauty is in the taste bud of the beholder...

==========

Dear H2O Cats, I agree, at least once in one's life, artichokes should be tossed, which is more fun than chucking cookies any day of the week. Glad you enjoyed... would love to have the painted sign on a wall at home... well, yer all just gonna have to come over here for the next one, next August...

============

Hi Cynthia, they are indeed a lovely vegetable, in all their forms. Especially lovely if they get to flower... brilliant purple flowers...

============

Robert, thanks so much... no, I didn't participate this time, had only just discovered the existence of the event... maybe next year ! Happy birthday to your son !

============

LAURIE !!! Listen, just don't tell Prince Charles, or he will have the RSPCA after the organizers... but don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger, bearing tidings of airborne artichokes ! :-D

Ah, you got me all choked up now over the fate of the hurled artichokes... I'm sure they were still good for being boiled in a pot though, so no real harm done...

==========

Salut Sar@h, bon, va falloir que tu viennes l'année prochaine à Henvic... c'était trop marrant... les jours passent à une vitesse pas possible, on part demain... j'ai d'autres photos de Morlaix à afficher bientôt, de la journée passée en promenade... Morlaix n'a pas fini de livrer ses secrets...

Owen said...

Jean, mille fois merci pour ces mots plus que sympa !

=======

Hi Marguerite, merci beaucoup... so can you get artichokes in Louisiana ??? If so I'm sure there are some good cajun ways to prepare them...

========

Amy, the world would most certainly be a duller place without artichoke throwing !

========

Janie, no inhibitions allowed when it comes to artichoke tossing !

========

Hi Diana, wow, some pumpkins get so big it would take a Hercules to toss them any distance... :-D

========

Hi KJ, Ahh, glad to hear you like these green sources of gustatory pleasure... and I imagine peas are easier for Emily rabbit to launch than artichokes....

As for becoming a reclusive castle dwelling hermit who rarely ventures out onto the avenues or lanes of Blogland, I hope to become a bit more present and visible than in the past few weeks very shortly... I've been on vacation for most of August, from work, and to a certain extent from blogging too, time to catch up with many socializing and travel related occasions not possible the rest of the year; so it is true, I've been absent from many blogs, including my own for the past few weeks. But I do hope to be back on Blogland Lane soon, very soon... many thanks for dropping in.
:-)

===========

Hi Nathalie ! Glad to hear you had a great time in Brittany... I know I've been a bit absent from all the blogs, but hope to get back into the swing of things as vacation winds down here... am heading back home tomorrow, where the internet connection is faster, and back to more normal rhythms of life... There's plenty of fun to be found in Brittany, if one digs a little...

==========

Dear Helmets for All, whoever you may be, (:-)) indeed, indeed, it is a hasardous sport to observe, there were more than one artichoke that ended up in the crowd, either behind, or to the sides of the pitch... sometimes the stalk breaks off the artichoke and they go flying every which way. Even standing behind the tosser I almost caught one in the face...
:-D

==========

Owen said...

Hi K'line, tu as raison, à table, tranquillement, à la vinaigrette, ou juste au beurre chaud, c'est très bon... merci en tout cas de ta visite, et bons artichauts !

==========

Hey Peter, I'm not sure, I didn't stick around until the very end, had a dinner to get back to, and it was getting late, but I did hear one of the people picking up the stray artichokes in the ring between pitches if anyone wanted some, so I guess there is a good chance they were handed out afterwards...

==========

Jeff !!! You're back ! Tu es de retour ??? Ahh, ça fait longtemps... j'espère que tout va SUPER bien dans l'univers de Life is Beautiful, et à très bientôt... Hmm, lancer des cannettes ? Des cannettes de quoi je me demande ??? Cela commence avec un "t" ??? A+++

==========

Salut Loulou, ahhh, une fan d'artichauts volants ??? Cela m'a fait très plaisir ton message, je te souhaite un excellent voyage, et à bientôt.... merci...

The Sagittarian said...

Sorry I'm late! This post puts a whole new line in the sand for the Gumboot day of Taihape, http://www.taihape.co.nz/gumbootday

Now then, has that Hurricane blown away your bar???

samantha said...

Thanks very much for sharing interesting photos and story. I enjoy reading this post.
Samantha
Wireless Home Alarm Security Systems

Owen said...

Hey Saj, you made it ! ... so gumboots are also hurled for fun ??? Must be a sight to see... especially if the gumboot throwers have downed a few beers first... although if they have too many and start misbehaving I guess they just get booted right out of the competition ?

Nathalie said...

Attends, le cracher de bigorneau c'était pas du bidon ? Ca existe vraiment ? Par Thor, par Odin, par exemple, les dieux celtes sont tombés sur la tête !
:-)))

Nathalie said...

Je te souhaite un bon retour à Paris sans trop d'encombrements. Plus facile de rentrer sur Avignon ! En revenant de Bretagne j'ai croisé les foules qui remontaient sur Paris...

Roxana said...

oh, tu as un regard si attentif pour tous les petits détails de la vie, extraordinaire!

i would love to see a documentary on such an event made by you :-)

jeff said...

Je reviens par pur plaisir de cet article ! Non mais...! Lancer des artichauts ! ! ! Qu'ils sont... ces... artichauts !...:))))
Ciao Amigopix !

Karen said...

I love this post so much and everything I want to say has been said by others. What fun and I would love to gather some up to cook and eat with butter.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I tried throwing asparagus once.

But my mother caught me and I was disqualified.

I was five.

Cergie said...

Bonjour Owen, merci d'être passé chez moi. Les artichauts, je trouve qu'on ne leur porte pas toujours le respect qu'on leur doit ! Tu n'es ou tu es en France que depuis 17 ans ; il y a bientôt 25 ans, l'hiver 84-85 (mon fils est né en décembre 84 alors je m'en souviens) il a gelé très fort et il n'y a plus eu d'artichaut ; j'ai voulu en acheter deux ans après lorsque j'en ai revus sur un marché de Bretagne et les deux têtes à, je ne sais plus, disons un prix prohibitif, j'ai renoncé !

Trèfle de plaisanterie, les artichauts de mon château de Brécy sont un hommage à l'Italie dont ils viennent, introduits il me semble par la reine Catherine de Médicis.

:)

Jilly said...

What a hoot! This looks the best fun and you've captured it so well to share with us.

Eleonora said...

Hilarious!
Who comes up with these genius ideas anyway? Like the cheese rolling they have here, have you ever heard about it? I posted it HERE some time ago.

Anyway, vive les artichauts!
The only thing I'm worried about is... what happens to all those fabulous globe artichokes after the championship???

Hugs,
E xx