I almost didn’t enter the Malibu Pie Contest on Saturday. I had a million things to do, not enough hours in the day, deadlines unmet, clothing unwashed, meals unprepared, garden unwatered, late taxes unfiled…you know how it is. Consult your own calendar for examples.
But then I remembered that pie makes everything better. Whatever is wrong, pie will improve it. The flaky crust, the jammy interior, perhaps the crispy crumbs on top. It’s all better with a fork and a wedge of pie in front of you.
Actually, the methodical act of baking the pie, well, that’s part of the solution. From the first resolute step of turning on the oven, to the zesting of lemons, the softening of butter, the scooping of sugar (two kinds if you’re lucky!), to the final acts of judging whether that wiggle and jiggle in the middle of the baked pie is exactly right, or it needs a couple more minutes of heat to set properly, and then placing it out of the way on the washing machine to cool.
Yes, the pie-baking process is part one of the fix.
And whatever is weighing on you, well, the pie-eating process will put it to rest. Your mind will quiet, your demons will sleep, your undone to-do lists will be written in disappearing ink, if only for a few moments. Fork to mouth, delicious bite after delicious bite — some nearly all filling, some only crust. This prescription involves nothing more than butter, sugar, a rolling pin and some pie love.
The annual Malibu Pie Contest is one of the highlights of life in this small town, which really ought to be renamed Malibu RFD. While a million people may visit our area each year, only about 12,000 live here, and it is a close-knit group. Just like any small town, you run into your neighbors in the supermarket, at the library, you fight for the same few parking spaces in front of popular stores, and you see the same people surfing the same waves on their favorite stretch of the coast. Everyone knows when you highlight your hair, you unwittingly gain a few pounds, or you trade in the old beater for a newer car. Substitute the name of your own small town for mine, and it’s all the same.
The first time I entered the pie contest, in 2003, it was on a whim. No one was more surprised back then than I when I came home with a 2nd place ribbon for my World’s Best Caramel Pecan Pie. (Oh, and it is, my friends, it is.) I was hooked!
So this was my 10th year of entering the pie contest, and my 10th year of winning a ribbon. Without knowing it, I seem to have a streak going! It’s been a good run, with 23 ribbons in all — eight 1sts, six 2nds and nine 3rds. If you’re interested, you can see a list of my winning pies here.
When my 10-year-old son – he of the soccer tournaments, the trophies, the winning medallions and the athletic acclaim — heard that I won, he asked a simple question. “You do it for fun, right?”
Yes, yes I do.
But fun includes all these reasons, too:
For the challenge of getting the pies from my house to the contest, intact. (Remind me to tell you sometime about the year I had one of the pies on the back seat, I turned the corner a little too vigorously, and that pie did a gymnastic flip and ended up on the car mat, upside down.) Good times, my friends, good times.
For the volunteer runners who take the pies from the entry table to the judging table, in good spirits and with ultimate patience when annoying entrants like me want to tell them how to do their jobs. Sorry!
….as it has entrants! Go here if you’d like to see a short video of what our pie-eating contest is like.
For the good works of the Malibu United Methodist Church, which uses proceeds from the contest (entry fees + sold pie slices) for their good deeds. It’s not my church, but I know that every dollar counts in charity.
And now, a round of applause, please,
for all of these talented pie bakers!
- First: Naked Apple by Laurie Principe
- Second: Zimmer Family Apple Pie by Max & Suzanne Zimmer
- Third: Organic Sweet Apple Pie by Laurie Principe
- First: Lemon Cloud Pie by Dorothy Reinhold
- Second: Organic Blueberry Pie by Laurie Principe
- Third: Strawberry Rhubarb by Laura Hicks
- First: Chocolate Mascarpone by Beth Milliken
- Second: Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Pie by Dennis Principe
- Third: Girl in the Curl Chocolate Mint by Abby Blackwood
- First: Ricotta Nut Pie by Dominica Schiro
- Second: Pumpkin Cream Pie by Helena Little
- Third: Chicken Pot Pie by Laurie Principe
Meringue/ Cream Pie
- First: Crack Pie by John Loy
- Second: Lemon Curd Meringue by Christine Hogue
- Third: Fresh Pineapple Pie by Laura Hicks
- First: Lemon Cheesecake by Dominica Shiro
- Second: Tamara’s Rumball & Coke Cheesecake by Tamara Gross
- First: Chocolate Salted Carmel Pie by Kristine Boccino of the Godmother Cafe
- Second: Bill’s Apple Pie by Malibu Kitchen
- Third: Market Blueberry Cheesecake by Kristine Boccino of the Godmother Café
6 and Under
- First: Fresh Strawberry Pie by Lindsey Little
- Second: Apple Pie by Malibu Methodist Nursery School
- Third: Gummy Bear Town Pie by Zoe Doyle
- First: Key Lime Pie by Marielle Mandeville
- Second: Pumpkin Happiness by Luisa Beck
- Third: Nutter Brain Pie by Joshua Doyle
- First: Extreme Cheesecake by Tiffany Martin
- Second: Ava’s Key Lime Pie by Ava Norrell
- Third: Pumpkin Pie by Helena Mandevile
Photo of me with blue ribbon courtesy of Mary Tafi. Group shot of winners by Caren Leib. Thanks, Mary and Caren! Baby Kiwi courtesy of Melissa’s Produce.