16 August 2010

Salsa contest: Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa

As one of the activities during our Employee Celebration Day at work, the Diversity Council organized a salsa contest. That’s salsa the dip, not salsa the dance. It sounded like fun. So I organized a team. We had two of the attorneys from our Law Dept., my summer intern, and me.

I may have gone a little overboard in planning. But what the heck. A contest is a contest, and the goal is to win, isn’t it? Our strategy was to select a recipe that included some unusual ingredients, so that it would stand out from the pack. We decided not to go with a fruit salsa. The entries would be sampled with tortilla chips, and I think of fruit salsas as more of an accompaniment to meat or fish.

We perused a book I have – The Great Salsa Book. It’s available on Amazon. The recipe we found was tomatillos and avocados. It was a very simple salsa with just those main ingredients, fired up a little with chili peppers and cilantro and a generous addition of lime juice for tanginess. I’ve supplied the recipe below.LosCompaneros

I mixed up a batch over the weekend before the contest and brought it in to the office on Monday morning for the team to sample. Everyone agreed that it was unique and tasty, but we also agreed that it needed more heat. (I purposely toned the sample batch down because my wife doesn’t like it too spicy.)

Besides our strategy in recipe selection, we also wanted to have a distinctive look. So we had custom aprons made. For our team name, we picked “Los Companeros de Salsa.” That roughly translates as the Comrades of Salsa. And for our slogan, we went with ‘Toma Salsa.’ (As we brainstormed a slogan, one of the team suggested “Got Salsa,” a play on the ubiquitous ‘Got Milk’ advertising campaign in the dairy industry. The Spanish version of ‘Got Milk’ is ‘Toma Leche.’ Check the web site. It’s cool. Hence – Toma Salsa.) I thought the aprons were unique and attention-getting.

So our third strategy for winning was to influence the judges. In this case, our co-workers were invited to sample different teams’ salsa and ‘vote’ on the best. My intern was supposed to be the ringer on this strategy. She invited all the other summer interns (and there were lots of them) to come down to the contest. Since we were the only team that included an intern, I thought we were sure to get the most votes.

When you add it all up – unique recipe, stylish aprons, and the intern connection – I thought we’d win for sure. But darn it all anyway, we didn’t.

Team No. 2 – The Spicy Accountants – won. Here’s what I think happened. As people came into the auditorium to taste the different recipes, they tended to stay in line and taste them in order, from Team 1 to Team 11. We were Team 9. So by the time most people got to us, their taste buds were ruined, and they couldn’t appreciate the flavors of our creation.

Oh, well. No matter. We had a lot of fun doing it. And Los Companeros have a really cool apron for our kitchens.

I invited the winning team to post their recipe on Krik’s Picks. They’re thinking about it. They said they’re trying to find a way to turn it into a United Way Fundraiser, a sentiment that I applaud. I told them there would be no better way to promote it than by posting their recipe on Krik’s Picks. We’ll see.

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