Wednesday, July 24, 2013

All's "Fair" in Love and Pie Competitions

Truth be told, I debated even entering. 

My previous showing at the California State Fair was kind of a mixed bag - running the gamut from an adrenaline high with my "Mint to Be" Thin Mint Pie earning a first place blue ribbon to the stinging disappointment of an undercooked Boozy Caramel Apple Pie that didn't place. As I left the fairgrounds last year, I distinctly remember thinking, "Been there, done that and probably don't need to do that agian."
But, this summer has been a jumble of emotions - from the gratefulness I feel most every morning waking up to my noisy houseful of boys and very little on our to-do list to the ever increasing growing pains at the thought of my biggest boy heading off to kindergarten in just a few short weeks. As much as I try to be fully present in the moment, I find that - more often than not - I am grieving the latter.

And since nothing snaps me out of a funk like throwing myself headfirst into pie baking, I bit the bullet and entered two more humble pies in this year's fair.

If there is one thing the Pi(e) Day Party taught me, it's that people love chocolate pie (chocolate accounted for the first two empty tins on a table full of fruit and custard offerings). So, for my first entry, I quickly settled on Guinness pie - largely because my husband felt strongly about it and who am I to argue with my favorite taste tester?
Missouri Buttermilk Pie was an obvious candidate for my second entry, both because it has become our family's sentimental favorite and because I have made it more times than any other pie (including on TV!), but never in competition. I was hopeful that it was Buttermilk's time to shine!
Yet, as I took my place next to Will on those uncomfortable wooden benches in a room full of other nervous competitors, deja vu washed over me and I
began to wonder why I had put myself through this again. My heart raced and my stomach fluttered as I anxiously attempted to decipher the poker face of each judge after taking their first bite.
When all was said and done, my Guinness Pie took home a second place ribbon, with the judge noting too coarse a crumb on the pretzel crust and too subtle of a Guinness flavor amongst the rich layers of chocolate and marshmallow.
And once again, the curse of the undercooked crust reared it's ugly head when it came time to slice into the Missouri Buttermilk Pie. I personally promise to perfect you, sweet Buttermilk, if only for Thanksgiving and sharing among friends.

I have come to the realization that competition doesn't bring out the best in me. I am far too much of a perfectionist to take a third party's critiques with a grain of salt. I much prefer making pies for those I love - pies that are appreciated tenfold compared to those submitted in competition. And with that knowledge, I rest comfortably and renewed in the purpose of my corner of the blogging world here at Bake Somebody Happy.

But, then again, a year is an awfully long, who knows? Maybe I will see you once again, California State Fair. The third time is a charm, right?

"It could be argued that there is an element of entertainment in every pie, as every pie is inherently a surprise by virtue of its crust." - Janet Clarkson, Pie: A Global History