The U.S. Olympic Hockey Team's 1982 "Miracle on Ice" against the vaunted Soviets? Joe Namath and the underdog New York Jets over the mighty Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III? Rocky beating Apollo Creed for the heavyweight title (and Taxi Driver for the 1976 Best Picture Oscar)?
These are all runs-of-the-mill results compared to the upset that happened recently in, of all things, an international culinary competition.
The event, the Battle for the Dragon cooking contest, saw Germany and Wales both beat France, which is like France beating Germany in...well, war.
The German and Welsh teams both earned a gold medal, while the French earned only a silver (medals were awarded based on point totals, not order of finish).
The Battle for the Dragon is an annual competition organized by the Welsh Culinary Association and uses local produce and meats— which admittedly might have given Welsh chefs a "home kitchen advantage." Also, this was the first international culinary competition for France since 1978, so they may have been a bit out of practice.
Still, the French certainly brought their A team: a former Prix International Pierre Taittinger winner as captain, several Bocuse d'Or champions and five members of France's elite Maitre Cuisinier society. In other words, a veritable Murderers Row of the mise en place.
Yet the Germans and Welsh, sporting far less culinary star power, prevailed. Each team was required to produce a three-course meal, the Welsh using lamb, the Germans pork and the French beef. That last little detail might have been a bit of gamesmanship on the part of the host country, given that until recently France banned British (including Welsh) beef because of Mad Cow concerns. Maybe they were out of practice!)
Perhaps the rematch can take place in France, using French poultry—now under similar ban in many European countries due to bird flu fears.
The illustrations for FM's Just Desserts column are by Dave Clark. You can see more of his work at Clarktoons