Pie contest judged on taste, crust and Heimlich

The pie contest from Thanksgiving would be completely forgotten by now were it not for the Heimlich incident. Nobody actually needed the Heimlich, but that is a minor detail.

It was our second annual pie competition with bakers as young as 10 and as old as, well, let’s just say a woman of a certain age since I’m the one telling the story.

Pie entries were lined up along with a sour cream coffee cake, chocolate chip cookies and tiramisu. Yes, cookies, coffee cake and tiramisu are not pies, but it is extremely difficult managing the talent.

Eleven grands squeezed onto a folding bench in front of the dessert lineup, some adults sat in chairs at a table and some stood.

Our two judges, the husband who believes pie should be the base of every food pyramid, and a son-in-law who considers siracha a major food group, prepared for the first tasting when a 5-year-old began coughing.

Someone asked if she was all right. Someone else asked if she was choking. She was fine; it was just a benign little cough.

Despite the non-event, our daughter in the medical profession immediately flew into action asking if everyone knew what to do if someone is choking. She grabbed her sister (who was not choking and had brought a delectable chocolate pie), leaned her forward and announced the thing to do was give the person five firm whacks on the back.

There was one whack, two whacks, and I wondered when her sister would revolt, pie would fly and small children would run for their lives. But her sister, a teacher, obliged for the educational benefit of the group.

Our medical professional then explained that if the whacking maneuver fails, you then wrap both arms around the person, as she proceeded to again demonstrate on her sister. “Making a fist with one hand located just above their belly button—thumb side on their abdomen—place your other hand over your fist. Now pull quickly inward and upward.

“In and up,” she repeated, executing the move, “so the person can cough it out, not just up.”

At that point, the demo model pretended to forcefully spit something out of her mouth, whereupon all the children and both judges immediately sprang to shield the pies.

Eventually, calm was restored, no pies were harmed and the contest resumed.

The beautiful Greek pie with phyllo woven in a spiral pattern throughout the pie won “Pinterest Worthy.” A fabulous pumpkin pie, made by a boy using a pumpkin from the family garden, won “Best Crust” and another pumpkin pie took the “Delish” award. The apple pie with the secret ingredient (Ritz crackers) took “Beautiful Presentation” and the sour cream coffee cake was awarded “I Don’t Like It – I Love It!”

Everyone enjoyed sampling everything, although everyone was still on edge and did not so much as clear their throats. I personally stepped outside when I felt a cough coming on and saw one of the grands with allergies slip into the hall closet when she had a tickle in her throat.

It was our medical professional who enjoyed the holiday the most of all. She accomplished a worthy educational goal and simultaneously covered for the fact she did not enter the pie contest.

Christmas should be fun. Once the dishes are cleared, she will probably lay someone out on the tablecloth and step us through CPR.


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