I spent my second year judging food at the Canfield Fair. Last year, it was spinach dishes.
This year it was pineapple dishes — about 43 dishes to sample.
My judging credentials are slim, and those credentials are mainly that I'm not slim. The biggest distinction between my judging and the ladies I judge with is portion size. They are beauty to my beast. They nibble; I devour.
Congrats to the winners: Fran Hurayt of Austintown won with a pineapple pastry dessert that just exploded in flavor. What little credibility I have as a food judge, the key for me is the crust/pastry party of a treat. It needs to be flavorful, soft and textured.
Second place was Angela Brose, Canfield; third place was Cindy Gaines, North Benton; honorable mentions were Jennifer Kauffman, North Canton; and Kim Brothers of New Middletown.
The toughest thing about the process is not the 43 or so dishes; it's the 43 or so cooks looking at your every bite, eye roll or lip wrinkle.
Example: In the front row stared Poland's Cindy Peet and New Middletown's Kim Brothers. (Cindy was actually there in support of Brothers). Eventually, I start to return the stares. And since Cindy and Kim were in front of me, they got the most of my stares.
"Creepy" was one word I used to tease Cindy and Kim about their staring. While we were all having fun with it, I thought "creepy" might have been too tough of a word — until Kim did football commentator-like analysis of my eating style this year with pineapple vs. my eating style last year with spinach.
She teased me a bit about my pace. I reciprocated with "You know my pace from last year? That's really creepy."
Alas, Kim got an honorable mention this year. And we're both awaiting next year's contest. They promise to be in their same seats.
Think what you will about what makes the fair happen, but I'll tell you, it's ice. And every day this fair, my oldest son has been Ice Boy. I joined him for an hour or so on his route Friday. More on that later Sunday or Monday ....