Pie taxonomy, or Walla Walla = last minute

Last Friday I made pie, a tester pie in advance of this Saturday’s pie contest. I tried out a sweet potato coconut pie, something I’ve never made before. But I worried about making apple pie, as I said in my post last week. My original recipe called for the potatoes to be sliced, boiled, then layered in the bottom of the pie pan, but I think for this next go-round I’ll mash them and spread them in the bottom, and spice them up a little, rather than having them be plain. My tester pie came out looking like this:

"The Contender" pie

The crust was just a Pillsbury roll and bake crust, which I wasn’t planning on using for the real event, because as Susanne put it, “pie tasting judges know the difference between store bought and the real deal.” Well, I have to have the real deal, right? 

When I first heard about this contest, I looked for the rules for the pies and the procedures for entering the contest because hello, 9 years of working with or for the Federal Government, and I am a rule-following machine. Okay, I’m rather not a rule-following machine, but I do understand that not following the rules can come back to haunt me. But this, after all, is Walla Walla, Washington, home of the 90-minute-to-entree restaurant service. Thus it is that it’s now only today that the rules have been posted on the Daily Market’s Web site. And they state:

2.  Pie crust must be homemade. Bottom crust required, top crust is optional. 

3.  Pies may only be fruit-based. For health reasons, no cream pies or meat pies allowed. 

Well now, I guess I have questions about rules 2 and 3. First of all, I understand Susanne’s point about the crust, but how exactly is it that they’ll know I’ve used a store-bought crust? It would only be about the taste of it, right? It’s not like there’s a pie crust goblin that would pop up and give me away. Cripes, if there is a Pie Crust Goblin, I hope someone alerts me to this before Saturday! All that said, of course I’m going to make my own crust. I do have my mother’s recipe, after all. I might lose my mind with finicky pie crust, but I’ll muddle through somehow. I just have to remember I volunteered for this — damn this town for having so little to do that entering a pie contest seems interesting!

Okay, okay, it will be fun. I’ll be up against I have no idea whom — I might have to dial down the competitiveness if my challengers are bunch of grandmothers. Or maybe I’ll have to dial it up! I remember some of those women from my mixed bowling league a few years ago, and they were killers. They’d slowly walk down the approach, practically dropping the balls through the floor, and then whammo — strike. It wasn’t until they turned around with a wicked grin on their faces that you’d see they knew what they were doing all along. So if I’m baking against a bunch of master piemakers, I better bring my A game.

Now then, rule number three flummoxes me. Do sweet potatoes count as fruit or not? Last year’s winner was a walnut pie. A walnut pie. How the hell is that a fruit? Second place was an onion pie. Also nothing like a fruit as far as I know. So is this new rulemaking for the second annual contest? What’s the beef with non-fruit pies? Are there so many vegetarians in this town that the very idea of a meat pie causes the judges to resign and flee over to the Town of Touchet for their pie contest instead? I suppose I should call over to the coordinator and ask her if sweet potatoes are allowed or not. So all of my preparation is for naught if she says no sweet potatoes. If only they’d posted the rules way back last week. Tsk, tsk.

I will certainly keep everyone abreast of the latest developments regarding the Pie Off 2008.

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