Balgowlah Heights resident Leigh Mason was surprised- and amused- to discover a perfect picture of a crucifix surrounded by holy rays of light when she cut into a carrot this week.
And, while she’s sharing her surprising discovery for our entertainment, should it net her a tidy sum on ebay like previous global food-borne apparitions then she won’t deny the blessing!
Leigh was preparing a meal on 16 October, when she was startled by the sight of an unusual cross-shaped character in the freshly-cut carrot’s core.
She told Manly Observer, “Basically, I was cutting up a carrot to go into a salad .. and noticed there was the shape of a crucifix inside the carrot! Not only that, there seems to be ‘light’ streams coming from the cross, which is protruding out of the carrot a bit.”
This reporter succumbed to inquisitiveness and went to see the strange phenomenon, and can confirm the carrot’s interior is shaped like something you would expect gracing a church wall. Curiously, the crucifix shape appeared exactly at the point Leigh inserted the knife.
Had she chopped the carrot a centimetre away in either direction, the cross would never have been revealed and thereafter eaten as part of the salad.
Leigh took photos and showed them to people in her social circle, whom advised her not to eat the captivating carrot, and instead consider whether someone spiritual might wish to take custody of it.
“When I sent the photos out to friends and family, they began calling it the ‘miracle carrot’ and the ‘holy carrot’ and someone suggested I post it on eBay for sale – which I did!
“So far it’s had a whopping zero views and nil hits!
“I just want to say this,” she added, “I’m not very religious, but I know some people who are; and they might see this and think it’s a sign of hope or something, especially considering what’s going on in the world.
“So, if I do manage to sell the mystical carrot on eBay, I am planning on donating the money to local charities…”
However, the listing was ended on 19 October after no bids were made.
Leigh revealed that she was inspired to sell the carrot after a similar religious-themed item of food caused an international sensation.
“A decade or so ago,” she said, “someone paid over $20,000 for a very old toasted sandwich on which there was a picture of the Virgin Mary – a silhouette of Mary imprinted on top of the sandwich. It was auctioned on eBay.”
In November 2004, Diana Duyser, from Hollywood, USA, sold a 10-year-old cheese sandwich with a bite out of the corner, which she claimed featured an image of the Virgin Mary, for $US28,000 ($44,460 Australian) on eBay.
The grilled cheese sandwich auction attracted more than 1.7 million visitors.
So why did the sandwich, which wasn’t preserved with lacquer or formaldehyde, not decompose or get devoured by fungi over a decade of storage in a plastic box padded with cotton wool balls? Was it the work of a divine being?
Slate magazine explained the science, speculating Diana’s cheese sandwich was probably pan-fried in margarine: “Margarine consists primarily of hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is rich in trans fats. The fungi that love bread are typically averse to trans fats—they don’t digest them well.
“The cheese filling, aside from contributing to the sandwich’s fat content, also added calcium to the mix. Calcium is a mild mould retardant, though less so than margarine. The acidic cheese may have also altered the pH level of the sandwich; bread mould grows best when the pH is more or less neutral.”
Slate further speculated, “It’s not clear what sort of bread Duyser used, but odds are it was a store-bought loaf. Such breads are almost always chock full of preservatives like sorbic acid and propionic acid, which help to ward off mould. It’s possible that these preservatives helped keep the sandwich mould-free…”
Vergin’ on the ridiculous
Who purchased the ‘Virgin Mary’ cheese sandwich by paying such a phenomenal amount?
On 18 November 2004, NBC News reported “GoldenPalace.com, an online casino, confirmed that it placed the winning bid, and company executives said they were willing to spend ‘as much as it took’ to own the 10-year-old half-sandwich with a bite out of it.
“’It’s a part of pop culture that’s immediately and widely recognizable,’ spokesman Monty Kerr told The Miami Herald. ‘We knew right away we wanted to have it.’”
Time magazine reported that it’s not the first time that GoldenPalace online casino purchased religious-themed objects, revealing that they “snapped up many of the novelty items to put on display.” However, a fresh search of their website doesn’t reveal anything of the collection they’ve amassed.
Has Leigh preserved her crucifix carrot, in case, in a decade’s time, GoldenPalace contact her with a lucrative offer to take custody of the miracle vegetable?
“I’m keeping it in water in the fridge,” she replied, “so that should preserve it as best as I can for now.”
Leigh said she realised there was probably a rational explanation for her carrot’s crucifix pattern, not a spiritual signal from a higher power.
“I think that there’s just some kind of genetic abnormality within the carrot, a natural explanation,” she considered. “But it’s a bit of fun to think that it’s not and I like to show everyone because it is a little bit unusual.”
There is actually a name for the observation of anthropomorphic shapes or religious iconography in nature and everyday objects.
Leigh explained, “The scientific term given to this kind of phenomenon that happens every now and then, when we see pictures in food and shapes, is called pareidolia. It’s the human ability to make shapes out of randomness. It’s happened a lot in the past where, for example, people see Jesus or Mother Mary on toast and the like.”
Some of the most famous ones include the religious faithful seeing Mary’s or Jesus’ face appearing in clouds, trees, tortilla bread, Vegemite spread, or wall mould.
In March 2017, George Maley, a man from Maine, USA, listed a slice of buttered toast on eBay for $25,000 with what he said featured an impression of Jesus – albeit with no success.
However, an American brewery, Hailstorm, had more success and is retailing adhesive stickers on eBay of a photo purported to be Jesus’ face on a slice of toast.
Closer to home, Coogee Beach was the scene of a religious apparition in 2003 when religious adherents claimed to have seen a vision of Virgin Mary beside the safety fencing at Dolphins Point, the headland above Giles Baths at the northern end of the beach.
According to a report in the Coogee News, “The first Marian apparition at Coogee Beach was first reported on 22 January 2003 when a local laundrette told a local newspaper about the vision of a veiled woman at the fence about two months earlier.
“Numerous other sightings have been reported, allegedly occurring between 3.15 pm and 4.30 pm each day. Many pilgrims, mostly Roman Catholic believers, have since flocked to the site daily.”
The Coogee Parish priest, Father Dennis Holm, dismissed the vision as an optical illusion, and the Sydney Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church declined to undertake a formal investigation. Then, on 9 February 2003, less than a fortnight after the vision was publicised, vandals spray-painted and smashed the railings, then chained a toilet bowl to the broken fencing.
The name ‘carrot’ is derived from the French carotte or Latin carota, meaning ‘horn’ due to its shape – like a goat’s horn. Perhaps Leigh’s carrot was created by that infamous goat-horned fellow, the Devil, playing a Halloween trick on us…