In my favorite food movie, Waitress, 3 pie diner waitresses laugh, gossip, and deal with persnickety customers, bad boyfriends, and other various life crises. The main character, Jenna, invents 27 unusual pies each morning with names like, “I Hate My Husband Pie” and “Car Radio” pie. In my favorite scene, she’s singing and stirring chocolate in her kitchen, reminiscing about her mother’s pies as she bakes a “Lonely Chicago Pie” a decadent concoction of chocolate, brown sugar, and blackberries.
I love this movie because the waitresses remind me of all the women in my family, gossiping and cackling in the kitchens of my childhood. I’d sit quietly under the kitchen table, listening intently while they worried and laughed, spelling out words little ears shouldn’t hear. Except I could spell really well. The women in my family were known for their from-scratch cakes. But I loved their pies. Coconut custard, chocolate silk, bourbon pecan, mince, pumpkin. When they made pie, it was an event. I absolutely adore homemade pie.
Which is why I jumped at the chance to judge the 2010 Charlottesville Pie Fest. On October 3, 2010, people gathered at The Haven to eat pie, auction off pie, and judge one pie as “Best In Show”. All to benefit PACEM. Eighteen pies were entered, but only one was chosen the winner. Full results are at the Charlottesville Pie Fest website.
I felt like Boomer Esiason on the main stage as a pie finalist judge. Have you SEEN him judging Iron Chef? Yep, that was me. A real pie meathead. And I was surrounded by pie experts. People like Brian Geiger, Mollie Cox Bryan, and Rowena Morrel, who make pie all the time and can proudly wear that “expert” label.
But me? I just like to eat homemade pie. And oh yeah, I write about food and attempt to sound like I know what I’m talking about. With wildly varying degrees of success. But turn down a pie-judging opportunity? Not on your life sistah! I tried to channel my family womenfolk as best I could and offered my evaluations. Could even hear my Momma scolding, “Now don’t go and make a damn FOOL of yourself, ya heah?”
In the end, we all agreed Adrianna Gallo’s Pear-Cranberry Pie with Gingersnap Crumble topping was the best. Indeed it was – a beautifully made dessert with the snap of ginger, sweet crunch of pear, and the tart tang of cranberries.
Not only did I judge, but I won Elena Rosemond-Hoerr’s Caramel Green Tomato Pie in the silent auction. You heard me right – CARAMEL GREEN TOMATO. It was named “Judge’s Select” in the competition. Oddly enough no one else bid on it. To me it was a thing of beauty to behold. A unique and strange concoction straight out of the movie Waitress. The crust was just sweet enough, made with graham crackers and caramel. The pie itself tasted of warm golden delicious apples. The fried green tomatoes on top? Heck, they’re fried green tomatoes, what’s not to like? The only thing it lacked was an outlandishly poetic name. Maybe I’ll call it “Under The Kitchen Table” pie after my childhood hiding place. Maybe I’ll even try to make one myself. Stranger things have happened…
Thank you to Brian Geiger for organizing the judging that day, and especially to Marijean Jaggers for asking me to be a finalist judge. It’s her fault I just ordered a pie crust protector.
Kathy Kildea’s AWESOME Youtube video of the event: