Food: Invention & innovation

Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2004

In the news business, we have what we call "the window of stupefaction."

It unfolds like this:

We present an idea to the reader. We wait for feedback. We receive none. And we wonder, "Are they stupefied?"

So went the harrowing early days of the Food Challenge.

On Aug. 26, we asked you to concoct a dish using salmon, peanut butter, cucumber, tomato and anything else. The call went unheeded for six days. We grew introspective. We asked ourselves, "Is the readership collectively denying the great taste of salmon and peanut butter?" We screamed at the mirror, "Are we crazy??"

But then, on Sept. 1, it arrived via e-mail: the sender's name, Charlotte Carroll, with the subject line, "Food Challenge." Ms. Carroll, despite her distaste for salmon, had devised her very own "Cajun Salmon Peanut Butter Pizza."

Suddenly, we had a new hero, someone to believe in.

The window had been closed.

"Anything on a Boboli is going to be pretty good, and when I saw the ingredients I thought of the peanut butter as a tomato sauce," Carroll said. "I thought, 'Well, I wonder what would happen if you put it on a pizza and then put smoked salmon on top of it. It just kind of grew from there."

As did the Food Challenge mailbags.

Over the next nine days, we were inundated with recipes. We crawled toward the light, dusted off our ink-stained work clothes and found ourselves with 13 winners.

From cosmopolitan (Dixie Weiss' Mexican-street-cart-inspired "La Olimpiada Moderna") to groundbreaking (Kieran O'Farrell, Sue Scriber and Fred Kaiser's use of double-smoked bacon in their "Jammin' Salmon Ho Snacks"), these were the faces of invention and innovation.

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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