Judging by the Wrong Criteria

Join me today as I host a make-believe contest for potatoes.  The judges have five criteria and will examine each variety both raw and boiled .  Entering today are lovely Yukon Gold potatoes, beautiful red potatoes, large baking potatoes, orange sweet potatoes, and oh, what have we here?

A steak has applied to enter! Or rather, a team of steaks, one raw and one cooked fit to make any man’s mouth water. What are they thinking, entering a potatoes’ contest?  They have no business here. But we can’t discriminate, you know, since they insist.

Presenting Round 1

First of all, the judges examine the skin of the potatoes. It is dry and rough, as expected. Only the thicknesses vary. Baking potato has the thickest, and it seems the Yukon Gold has the thinnest.

Unfortunately, the steak seems to lack a skin entirely. Its outer edge is smooth and greasy! Failure of Round 1.

Presenting Round 2

Now the judges have cut the raw potatoes in half. Every one of them has firm and solid flesh throughout, starchy and smooth, just as required.

What’s this with the steak? It’s soft and squishy, of stringy texture, without a speck of starch! Failure of Round 2.

Presenting Round 3

Now the judges have cut thin cross-sections of each potato, in order to examine them for the peculiar layer located just under the skin; it has a slightly different texture and is considered the best part of the potato. The thicker the layer, the finer the vegetable. Ah, all these potatoes are passing inspection well.

But the steak! It’s outer layer is fat, pure and simple! Horror! Potatoes aren’t allowed to have fat. Failure of Round 3.

Presenting Round 4

We have now moved on to the cooked potatoes.  The boiled potatoes are soft when the judges apply pressure; the vegetables crumble into light, dry mounds.

But the steak? Oh, my, it didn’t even cook itself properly! It is brown and juicy, seared on the outside, still pink in the middle. Apparently it was grilled, not boiled. It will doubtless lose points for that.  Its texture is tender, but firm enough to withstand blunt pressure. Why, the judges had to cut it with a knife! Failure of Round 4.

Presenting Round 5

The final test concerns flavor. It must be bland or sweet, with slight differences depending on variety. These are fine specimens of potatoes.

How does the poor steak fare? The judges are shaking their heads. Its flavor is savory and rich, with a touch of spiciness. Failure of Round 5.

I hope you got a laugh or two out of that piece of nonsense.

But of course I have a point in writing it. There was nothing wrong with that steak. A beautiful rib eye cut, grilled to perfection; juicy and tender, not overcooked; flavored skillfully. But it failed every round.

Because it entered the wrong contest. It set itself up to be judged by criteria it had no hope of meeting. Silly of it, don’t you think?

I’ll close with words from Elisabeth Elliot in her book, Let Me Be a Woman:

To subject femininity to the criteria of masculinity is as foolish as it would be to judge meat by the standards of potatoes. Meat would fail every test. For women to assume an ersatz masculinity means that they will always lose.

What are your thoughts on this subject?

-Miss Darcy


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