Monday, October 31, 2005

"Anyway you say it, it sounds dirty." -- Lrudlrick on people loving his wife's pie.

What a weekend, folks. If not for the traffic and the milling of a million and one people, I would have thought I was in Stars Hollow. Clearly the organizer felt the same because she accidentally called our local food mart, Doosie’s Market.

The Autumn children’s festivities were bigger than I had imagined. Kids I had never seen before crawled out of the woodwork. By the way, dragons are this year’s popular costume. There is something about kids wearing talon spats that makes me giggle.

The highlight of the weekend, aside from watching the Z-girl freak out over the lighted pumpkins in the garden was the pie contest.

There were tons of pies. Custards, fruit pies, meat pies. You name it, it was there.

I’ll tell you the hardest part of the pie contest wasn’t developing the recipe or baking the pie or even watching the judges. It was transporting the bloody thing. You know how professional chefs make a big deal about transporting a 50 lb tiered cake 3 feet to a display table? They are so right.

First of all, my pie was a heavy pie. 5 pears filled my double crust pie. Add the weight of the ceramic pie plate, the pizza baking sheet I used to transfer it and the plastic dome I covered the pie with to ensure a renegade leaf wouldn’t blow into it made my pie feel like a stack of bricks.

After the pie crust fiasco of pie #4, I realized that I had to be very careful moving this pie. Nothing and I meant nothing could hit the sides of the plate. As I gingerly walked to the display table, several men commented on how tasty the pie looked. I thanked them and asked them politely to run defensive tackle against the children that were running to and fro.

I signed in and the lady immediately showcased my pie on the highest stand in the center of the table. “That’s a good sign” said my husband. Like a true dork, I began taking photos of all the pies submitted. Hey, it was my first cooking contest. Cut me some slack. At least I stopped myself from having my picture taken with the pie arched at a 45 degree angle.

Lrudlrick and I started commenting on our dislike of cream pies when we tried to decipher the design on a custard pie. My husband and I were short of mocking the pie when one of the volunteers noted it was an entry in the kid’s division.

The silence between my husband and I was deafening. Now, we weren’t making fun of the pie but heck, we could have been a bit nicer. If I were to lose simply on the fact I couldn’t figure out that was a sun design on the pie, I knew it was karma deserved.

For the rest of the event, my husband and I hovered around the pie contest like vultures waiting for their meal to kick the bucket. Occasionally we’d watch the judges taste and nod approvingly. Lrudlrick tried to lean in to hear the discussions.

Finally, I realized that we were taking this contest a little too seriously and left to grab lunch and a hot chocolate. As we ate our lunches, images of me turning the table over and going Hulk in front of hundreds of kids dressed as Elmo and Tigger came rushing through our brains. I nearly choked on my sandwich. We both laughed. Lrudlrick and I became more elaborate with my reactions. In one scenario, every profanity known to man in English and Cantonese spewed out of my mouth. In another, I threw a pie at the winning baker which led to a pie fight worthy of a Three Stooges flick.

In the end, they announced my name and even though it was a silly local pie contest, it felt good to win. Sure, I could have gotten up to the mike and said, “I am the greatest! There can only be one! All you other bakers aren’t worth a baker’s dozen!” But I felt it more dignified to smile and thank the judges.

My pie sold out like hotcakes afterwards and my husband left carrying my empty pie plate mockingly stating that he was going home with the area's best pie. Lrudlrick began boasting about my ten minutes of fame and how it warranted my picture being hung in the local market and getting the best seat in the house at our local restaurant.

Dreams of stocking my pies at the local restaurant developed and Lrudlrick had the twinkle he always gets when he thinks his dream of being a stay at home dad can finally come true. Like a true first place champion that’s pronounced ‘chom pea on’, I spent the rest of the night doing what a master baker get your mind out of the gutter would do, I cleaned my kitchen. Remnants of the numerous pies baked and tested were put away. The kitchen has returned to normal, at least for the next few weeks before Turkey day.

Thanks goes to Matt for recommending I sign up for the contest. Matt, chestnut season is here so I’ll start working on those Capezzoli di Venere. If you’re interested in becoming my manager in the local pie contest circuit, drop me a line. This week, the Five Borough Bakeoff! Next week, the world! Ok, maybe Westchester county.

Oh and if anyone from the Food Network is reading this, I’m open to a reality based program where you follow me as I enter local contests. Forget those impossible $10,000 cooking contests. Let’s get real. I’ll take a gift certificate to the local Chinese takeout any day. Lrudlrick and I have already worked on our pitch. Call me!