Tales of the Testers: Find That #@%! Ingredient
From time to time here at AWCE, we'll provide slices of recipe-testing life at The Post. We test every recipe that is published in print and online at Recipe Finder. Our testers are a small, dedicated band of volunteers. When they see upcoming titles posted via e-mail, they pounce on a first-come, first-served basis. They often will bring in their finished dishes to be photographed, which makes me (as recipe editor) appreciate them even more.
Next week's Mango Salad With Ginger-Raisin Vinaigrette looked simple enough. Mary Pat snagged it. When she began to shop for its ingredients on Friday, she couldn't find golden raisins at a Giant in Potomac. On Saturday, there were none at the Whole Foods Market on P Street NW.
By Sunday night, she was 0 for 6: at the Whole Foods in Tenleytown, at the Safeway stores near Georgetown Day High School and Chevy Chase Circle. Rodman's? Nope.
She e-wailed: "They are raisins, for heaven's sake -- not lavender crystals or even yogurt-covered/dried/mixed you-name-it variants of regular raisins, apricots, cranberries, cherries, dates or dehydrated blueberries," all of which were in great supply, mocking her.
The recipe called for the raisins to eventually be pureed in a dressing; would dark raisins have altered the taste or look of the dish? Maybe. We'd know for sure if we tested it different times with different raisins. But we needed the golden ones to start with.
After a few calls to confirm the lack of a raisin conspiracy, I found a box at SuperFresh. Mary Pat made the vinaigrette. I retested it with dark raisins (at some personal sacrifice; I am not a raisin person). Golden raisins it is.
Matters of ingredient substitution can be serious business, which we'll discuss in future Tales of the Testers. For now, I'm just curious: As non-testing recipe followers, at what point would you have
a) Thrown in the dark raisins,
b) Substituted another light-colored dried fruit, or
c) Ordered Chinese?
-- Bonnie Benwick
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