Let Them Eat Pie

Jane Roskam's Apple Pie Party

Jane Roskams, UBC neuroscientist and fellow Point Grey denizen, has a mighty apple tree in her backyard. Each year, it provides an abundant harvest — or rather, an over-abundant harvest. To mitigate the apple onslaught, to broaden the wealth, and to share the fun, Jane holds an annual Apple Pie Party. The 2011 event took place last night, and we were fortunate enough to wrangle an invitation.

The concept of the party is simple: help Jane use the damn apples. And one more thing: be prepared to be judged on your effort.

Starting Wednesday evening, Jane sets-out bags of freshly harvested apples on her front door for collection by the invitees. On Sunday afternoon, many of those guests will turn-up at the party with freshly baked pies, which are taken discreetly and anonymously into the dining room, to be laid-out with the other submissions for a blind tasting. Although apple pie is a principal subject of conversation in the party’s opening hours, guests are forbidden to describe the pie they have made for fear of compromising objectivity. Judges, it seems, walk among us; and the identity of the three-judge panel is not disclosed until moments before they enter the Star Chamber for a private tasting and deliberations.

Once the judges have reached a verdict, the tasting table is open to the mob – fifty of us, in all. An obscene amount of pie is consumed in very short-order. And some damned good pie it was! There were a number of picture-perfect traditional offerings, which looked as though they had been lovingly produced by a North American grandmother straight from central casting or a Norman Rockwell painting. The very best of these, to my mind, was not produced by a bent, gray-haired woman in a bad dress and worse gingham apron (in fact, the grandmotherly archetype was distinctly missing from this younger, hipper party), but by a strapping 15-year-old boy. It was Sam’s first-ever pie and it was brilliant. He won third place in the judging.

Yoo-Mi and I prepared our standard tarte tatin – or what would have been our standard tarte tatin had not Jane’s apples liquefied into applesauce within moments of exposure to the bubbling, caramelizing sugar. We feared the worst; but somehow, the tarte managed to hold itself together and came out of the pan astonishingly intact.

And, yes, it won first prize.

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3 Responses to “Let Them Eat Pie”


  1. 1 Yaniv 6 November 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Congratulations Mark! You’ve still got it :-)

  2. 2 Nisha 23 November 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Ah! looks so yummy. no wonder you guys got the first prize.. it’s such a visual delight.

  3. 3 Lisa 1 December 2011 at 5:45 am

    Yum…good to see you are still alive and well.


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