Monday, March 29, 2010
In the spirit of friendly competition, we regularly have 'cook-offs' at my place of employment. They are a lot of fun, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't miffed that I haven't won yet. At my behest, the theme of our latest competition is 'Appetizers'. For you to understand my perspective, let me briefly recap our four previous installments:
-About a year ago we had a Chili Cook-Off. I was a judge. Chili allowed for artistic freedom while still being married to the agreed upon concept of Chili. That is unless you are JD and you use tofu and your dish adopts the color and consistency of spackle. I was a judge. MT won. I did not vote for her. Her chili tasted like taco-seasoning, but I digress. There are sourer grapes to come.
-The second episode was an 'Apple-Pie' Bake-Off. Pie was a very loose qualifier (as there were several crisps) but everyone agreed that store-bought crusts were inexcusable. MT won again. Again, I did not vote for her. I don't even remember her pie, but I think it used applesauce or had no top crust or had some other unsettling attribute that blasphemed Apple Pie as I knew it.
-For the third competition, we maintained the baking theme, this time setting our sights on Chocolate Chip Cookies. After judging twice and viewing the pratfalls of others, I felt confident in my decision to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies. It was October and they were delicious. The ribbon was as good as mine (of course, MT opting out also helped matters). As I've already alluded to, I did not win. The reason for this is two-fold. One, because the judges for this competition were simpletons with an irrational fear of pumpkin. And two, because people cannot follow simple rules. Chocolate Chip Cookie means a Cookie with Chocolate Chips. Not a chocolate chunk brownie (yes MB now I agree brownies aren't cookies). Not a sugar cookie with Rolo's pressed into the top. I lost to both.
-The fourth and most recent foray was a Soup-Off. I pulled out all the stops and made a delicious Mulligatawny Soup. With MT and J-Fo also entering the fold, an epic showdown was brewing. I was a bit apprehensive about choosing soup as a theme, fearing that it was too broad a category and it would be difficult to compare and contrast them. But I decided I would make the best soup I could make, and if some fool wanted to get cute and make a Butternut Squash Soup, that was their prerogative, but he wouldn't stand a chance. I placed second to who else but MT. She won rave reviews for her meat-lovers soup. It was spicy beyond belief (and surely loaded with MSG) but people ATE IT UP. Judges attempted to console me, saying 'If yours was spicier, it would have won', but the damage was done. MT laughed all the while, taking pictures with her fancy camera.
So this brings me to the appetizer cook-off. I know MT can make a mean egg-roll and will probably win again, but that's not the point. How can you compare a Jalapeno popper to Crab Rangoon? Spinach and Artichoke dip to Cocktail Weenies? It's just silly. People can't be asked to judge such disparate dishes. I recommended Macaroni and Cheese or Homemade Salsa, two familiar concepts with a lot of room for creativity, but no, it was appetizers. As of now I am still boycotting the contest, but if I do enter, I can guarantee two things. It will be incredibly spicy and I will not follow any rules.