Monday afternoon, my selfless training for the Strides Against Breast Cancer walk brought me to the Puyallup Fair and my yearly opportunity to judge the pie baking contest. I must say this turned out to be just a lot harder than I expected. Each of the judges receives a sheet with all of the items on which the pie is to be judged – originality. Was the crust brown and bubbly, was the recipe presented with the pie. When I first agreed to judge this contest, I thought sure, what can it hurt. It’s just a pie. But it soon became evident that the men and women who baked these pies were very serious about them. And I’ve got to say, if I went to all the trouble of baking a pie and lugging it to the Fairgrounds, I’d take it very seriously too. So columnist Kathleen Merryman and I, along with Marlene Angell, the professional judge, and Scott Arend, food blogger for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, settled in and commenced to taste.
You can really only taste a little of each pie. Because the rest of the pie with one beautiful piece cut out of it then goes on display for the rest of the fair. There were all sorts of unusual ingredients that you would not think could possibly go into a pie, from red hot candies to cinnamon whiskey. And somehow, they were all delicious. Sue Horton coordinates this effort for the Puyallup Fair each year, and she assures me that if I ever get tired of pie, I could judge the jelly, salsa, or Spam contests. So far the pie sounds best.
And if they ever ask you to judge the pie contest, say yes.