I have been invited to be a Principle Judge and Demonstrator at a local Apple Festival. Cool right? Well, it is and it's not. It's cool (and flattering) to think I am considered enough of an "expert" about baking and my palate is developed enough that I have been asked to be a judge. A judge is an "official appointed to decide" something. To be a culinary judge is complicated. First, there is the matter of what you will be judging; in this case, pie. Second, there is the matter of the fact that when a person bakes or cooks, they share a bit of themselves with others, so to be the judge of another is no small matter. Lastly, how much a person has to taste by the time they have completed judging. I will not be judging low calorie, fat free or even healthy foods; I will be judging PIE! YOU do the math! I say however, calories shmalories! I am performing a service to the community, on a Sunday, in the heat, so the calories DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT count. Whew! That is one of the three judging responsibilities off my plate so to speak. Now, where was I... OH YES! Judging...
A pie should look like it was made by a human, not a machine. It should be pleasing to the eye yet slightly imperfect. My pies for example fit this description; in fact, they are so imperfect, they look like I meant to make them that way! (This is my story and I am sticking to it!) When the pie is sliced, the crust should crumble yet be firm and melt in the mouth without falling apart. The filling should be juicy enough to make you drool just looking at it yet stable enough to suspend the fruit. If it is a custard-type or cream pie, the pie filling should be luscious and velvety, not gloppy or pasty. Sound complicated? BINGO! That is why it is a contest people!
To cook and bake is to share a bit of yourself with others. (I have written about this concept before.) Just to work up the courage to bring something you baked to a contest is an accomplishment. It's nerve-wracking to watch judges taste and score, taste and score and then re-taste and so on. It's nerve-wracking for me as a judge. I will be choosing winners and losers for goodness sake. I will be saying to one person in the lot, 'Hey, you're the best baker here today.' I will also be letting the others know they are not.
Pie says "home" to me which is why it is such a popular dessert. Pie's origin has been traced back to the Greeks who were the first geniuses to combine flour and water. Personally I think the pie thing was just an accident. I think, one day little Titus was running around the hearth-room, playing tag with his little Greek friends, smacked into the vessel that held the water (his mama had just shlepped up from the river) which knocked into, broke and spilled the vessel that contained the milled grain; thus creating a big mess. Being easily distracted, the friends gathered about the mess they had made and thought, 'that looks like fun" and began to form the mass into balls. Just as they were poised to hurl the balls at each, Mama walked in. Mama saw the mess, contemplated murdering the little dears BUT being a Greek, mama was frugal, so, she thought 'now what?' ALL this is not going to go to waste! (Greeks NEVER throw anything away, even accidental dough balls...) So, Mama gathered up the dough balls and rolled them out flat. Mama chopped some olives and threw them in a bowl. She added feta cheese and an egg. She dumped the olive mixture onto the rolled out dough, cooked it over the fire and viola! The world's first pie! Mama accomplished this while simultaneously spanking the children!
So, wish the entrants luck. No pressure... But, the bar is high! They must bake or get spanked.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor