And The Winning Taste Of Summer Is ... | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

And The Winning Taste Of Summer Is ...

Play associated audio

The voting is finished. The taste test is done. The verdict is in: Marti Olesen has won All Things Considered's Taste of Summer contest with her recipe for Diane's Dad's Summer Sandwich.

I know not everybody will agree with my decision. Frankly, in my book, all three finalists are winners. Judging them was tricky business because so often it was like comparing apples, oranges and kumquats.

Each story had its own merits. Each recipe was good and had its vocal supporters.

Susan Jones' Strawberry Trifle story was charming and fantastic. That a non-cook's "bring a dish" anxiety was extinguished by serendipity, when a scrap of paper blowing in the wind on recycling day caught her attention, is appealing for anyone who's struggled in the kitchen.

Patricia Mulvey's story was about how her Ensenada Slaw came out of a crazy trip from hell to Mexico. I think "Maximo's Auto Repair and Beauty Supply Shop" will be burned in my brain for the rest of my life. Screwball comedy — when it happens off-screen — is also very, very appealing, and Pat is an expressive storyteller, for sure.

But Marti Olesen's story was stealthy. On the surface, it was simple: She hears about a recipe with ingredients that seem odd together, she tries it, she doesn't like it. But then she learns the secret: It's in the layering. She tries it again and loves it so much she plants a garden to better enjoy this summer sandwich. Her dedication to this thing that didn't seem like it would taste all that good is also appealing.

At our NPR headquarters, I made each recipe for a Taste of Summer taste test. They were all easy to do, included seasonal ingredients and earned a summer cook's vote of gratitude for not requiring an oven or a stove top.

But here's one thing that gave the summer sandwich an edge: It has high shareability, in that it's a recipe people really, really want to share.

Over and over, pro-sandwich listeners wrote in along these lines: "I couldn't believe this sandwich, with its white cheddar cheese, tomato, cucumber, onion and crunchy peanut butter combo, could possibly be that good. So I made it. I loved it. I loved it so much I made another. I made my kids try it. They loved it. I cannot wait to make it again."

This high shareability quotient was driven home during our taste test.

While not everybody sampling was Team Sandwich, everybody who was Team Sandwich was emphatically and surprisingly Team Sandwich, and their enthusiasm was infectious. You could practically hear the buzz around the table as people not involved with the taste test were pulled in to try the sandwich. As engineer Stu Rushfield, who'd heard all the Taste of Summer stories, put it: "I wouldn't say no to any of these recipes. But the one I'd make again is the sandwich. Because it's just so strange. And so good."

Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest. It was a lot of fun. I'm off to make another sandwich now. The crunchy peanut butter really does make it.

Melissa Gray is the producer of All Things Considered's Found Recipes series.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In A Remarkable Feat, 'Boyhood' Makes Time Visible

Boyhood is about a boy in Texas whose parents have separated. Filmed over 12 years, audiences watch him grow up — and his worldview evolve. The cumulative power of the movie is tremendous.
NPR

Spread Of Palm Oil Production Into Africa Threatens Great Apes

Palm oil growers are setting their sights on Africa as they amp up production. More than half of the land that's been set aside for plantations in Africa overlaps with ape habitats, researchers say.
WAMU 88.5

Democrats Push To Overturn Hobby Lobby Ruling

Virginia's Tim Kaine and other Democrats are trying to overturn the ruling with legislation they say will protect female workers.
NPR

Friday Feline Fun: A Ranking Of The Most Famous Internet Cats

Forget the Forbes Celebrity 100. This is the Friskies 50 — the new definitive guide of the most influential cats on the Internet. The list is based on a measure of the cats' social media reach.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.