Smoke: A Food Experiment

by Kate Djupe

For years, I have tolerated smoky foods more than I have liked them.

That made my entry into a competition based on smoky foods all the more curious.

But then today, while sitting downwind from the grill at Los Potosinos while they were finishing their amazing pollo al carbon, I realized my mouth was salivating, my stomach was growling and I couldn't concentrate on anything going on around me. The smoke that I was bathing in was having a profound effect on me.

Smoke stimulates my appetite. Quite effectively, too. Who knew? (Fine. Anyone besides cavemen and the billions of humans that came after them to light a fire?)

Acknowledging this feels like I have broken down a wall because now that I am not saying "I don't like eating charcoal", I can recall some really incredible bites of food and sips of beers & cocktails that have been smoky. Perhaps I didn't think of them as smoky before this because they were also tangy or spicy or chocolate-y or herbaceous or just more complex.

So my views on smoke have evolved in the lead up to Sunday's Food Experiment: Columbus. Now I think of smoke much like I do spiciness. Too much of either creates an unpalatable flat note in the mouth that would leave only die hards going back for a second bite. Just the right balance elevates a good bite into something that leaves me, and hopefully you, wanting another and another.

If you aren't convinced, come to Skully's on Sunday afternoon to find out.

And because my sous chef/husband has also had a profound effect on the evolution of my culinary beliefs, vegetarians will be welcome at our table!