With all the hoo-hah going on around here, you’d think we were back in the days of royal food-tasters! Belinda grumbled to herself as she trudged across the fairgrounds for the sixteenth time that day. All right, fourteenth, but who’s counting?
It was the first day of the annual County Fair. For those who visit the exhibits, thrill to their toenails on the rides, stuff themselves on corndogs and lemonade, it’s such fun. But for those who labor behind the scenes, well…not so much.
Take the pie-judging contest in two days. Belinda swore last year that she’d never volunteer again; and she had not volunteered this year. She was volunteered. Granted, her mom had spent three unanticipated weeks in the hospital early in the year, and during the summer when the battle heated up, Mom wasn’t strong enough for Fair duty. But Belinda’s tour of leadership wasn’t going well.
The dispute over the new point system began when Belinda and most of the committee members decided taste was the foremost quality one desired when eating a pie. Overall appearance certainly was important but heck, she’d made and eaten her share of somewhat inglorious looking pies that she would have given a blue ribbon to purely on taste: the initial feel on the tongue, the balance of the primary flavor, and did it taste like the fruit, nut, or cream or savory mix it purported to be, and the blend of feel and flavor that gave it its character. That is what made a pie.
So the point system had been amended. In each category, points would be assigned the pie based on judges’ notes taken during the process.
Judges would examine the overall appearance of the pie—for a total of 30 points. They were to look at the crust and the edge to check for even baking; check with a fork for crust flakiness; slice a piece of pie with a knife and remove the entire piece to a plate using a pie server (to see how the appearance held up under this maneuver); then check the appearance of the inside of the pie.
Next the judges would consider the taste of the pie—for a total of 35 points. Judges would taste one small bite of pie, chewing it slowly and allowing it to sit in the mouth to assess the full flavor and “mouth feel.” Then they would take a small piece of crust only, then another small bite of pie.
Of lesser importance was the overall impression of the pie—for a total of 20 points. How memorable was this pie; how impressed with it was the judge, and why.
Rounding out the scoring was the creativity of the pie—for a total of 15 points. The judges were to consider what made this pie unique, how it differed from all the rest. It was the five points taken from this category and applied to the taste category which caused the ruckus.
No, Belinda thought, as she yet again considered the matter. What caused the ruckus was Cora Phillips and her position as wife of the Pastor of the largest church in Wright Valley County. Belinda’s pastor’s wife, to be precise. And Cora’s position on the Pie Judging Committee—Vice Chair. Vice being the operative word, Belinda thought snidely, if you consider arrogance a “vice.”
The thing was, the rest of the Committee agreed with Belinda and her mom. But like a publicly held company, the person with the most shares (in this case, influence) carried the most weight when voting said shares. And that person, now and then, tended to throw that weight around.
Taste, Belinda thought. Well, this will leave a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. They won’t remember the winners, the joys of the Fair itself, even the pies, without remembering the Pie War.
So: to stand her ground and join with the Committee in changing the judging criteria, or give in to the stubbornness of a self-important, overbearing know-it-all?
Suddenly Belinda felt a strong tug in the vicinity of her heart. What was it she was trying to win here? Did she simply want to prove Cora didn’t have the power she had assumed?
Belinda made last minute phone calls to the Committee and explained her position. The point system—at least this year—would remain the same. Peace would reign. God would deal with any flaws in Cora’s personality.
And the final taste of Belinda’s personal victory? Well, that was sweet.
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