Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bluebird Sings Spring Songs

Last week I was invited to judge my old elementary school’s Pie Baking Contest, which is just one of the many exciting events at the school’s annual May Fair.

When I was little I used to wait with bated breath for the May Fair every year. It was quite the social event, complete with a Maypole, dancing, face painting, flower crowns, and sticks with streamers tied onto them that we would wave around excitedly.

The Pie Contest is a fairly new addition to the festivities, and I took the job seriously from the get go. My friend Lea also agreed to judge, and on Saturday we arrived ready to eat lots of pie.

Actually this is not entirely true. Originally I was excited to eat lots of pie, and I thought it was a great idea until I began thinking about it more, whereupon I realized that this could potentially be too much pie. It started to give me anxiety.

“Lea” I said, my voice heavy with concern. “Even if we just take one bite of every pie- say there are forty pies? That will still be like eating an entire pie on our own, at least. I don’t know if I can do it.”

“Maybe we can do it like wine tasting,” she said trying to ease my nerves. “We can take a bite and chew it just enough to taste it, and then spit it out.”

I thought about this for a minute, and tried to imagine sticking a forkful of oh, say, chocolate cream pie in my mouth, chewing it (sort of) and then spitting it out.

“That’s impossible,” I said to Lea. “How can you only partially chew pie? How can you taste it without swallowing it? It will just dissolve in our mouths before we can spit it out. We have to eat it.”

“That would be so gross anyway,” she said. "Imagine."

So I was resigned to the excessive pie consumption that seemed inevitable, and made a mental note to take an epic bike ride later that day.

But once we arrived we quickly realized that all my worries were for naught because only two adults entered pies! The pie contest would have been a total bust if it wasn't for the “Under 14” category in which about ten pies were entered.

Suddenly our task seemed much more manageable, and we got to work tasting and rating on a scale of 1-5 (five being the best), for crust, filling, originality, presentation, and overall tastiness. Since there were not that many pies entered I admit I did indulge in repeated tastes of the same pie. With most of the pies. Okay all of them. But Lea and I did go for a bike ride that afternoon- I swear.

The pies were all delicious, but I do have a few personal favorites:

The first was an apple pie that was decorated with a ceramic blackbird poking out of the middle, and then little dough “eggs” that were dyed blue. I was instantaneously deeply in love with the kid who conceptualized this one. The apples weren’t cooked through and some weren’t peeled, but I didn’t care. It was just so sweet! And the girl who made it even wrote on the recipe card “bluebird sings spring songs.”

My heart melted.

The grand prize winner went to Owen Gilmartin for his outstanding Old Fashioned Lemon Pie with Macadamia Coconut Crust. It was also decorated with glazed blackberries and raspberries. Taste, presentation, and overall deliciousness made this one the winner.

There was also an insanely delicious sweet potato squash pie, with a huge mound of whipped cream on top. This was one of the two pies made by a parent, but the spices in the filling gave it a wonderful warm and complex flavor.
Happy May Day!


  1. this warmed my heart!!

  2. Waldorf indeed. Hey, recognize that hot apron I am wearing? I still have it!!!I meant to give you a shout out in the post...that is still such a sweet little thing.

  3. I love to read and digest every word you write.
    Thanks for the imagery...pictures too!

  4. hooray! you look just like sally!