Gamification comes to the kitchen


Twister is a fun game. The dial spins. Left hand on red dot. Another spin. Left foot on blue. Then right on yellow.

It continues until the family contorts into a modern sculpture anchored on a blanket of colored circles. Then gravity bests even those with the mightiest of yoga skills. The group collapses and laughter erupts. The game resets with everyone on their feet.

Prosciutto and pear appeteaser

Prosciutto and pear appeteaser

We continue to play until our bodies, not our brains give out. The combinations stimulate curiosity and unleash our inner Cirque-de-Soliel. The same can be said of adding fruit to savory dishes.

Across the globe, cultures have made this love connection. So says NPR. Raisins and prunes find their way to mincemeat pies in the U.K.. Germans lace sauerkraut with apples. Italians prop up prosciutto with cantaloupe. Southeast Asia favors tropical fruits. And the Middle East delights in stone fruit and figs.  Chickpea tagine with chicken and apricots anyone?

What’s best is what’s fresh.

A bite of Yokai Berry dish from Uchiko

A bite of Yokai Berry dish from Uchiko

Skilled chefs play with this tradition.  They move hands and feet to new dots without instruction from the spinner.

Take for example the substitution of just ripe pear for melon in a prosciutto appetizer. A drizzle of balsamic and healthy portion of burrata. Brilliant.

Tyson Cole takes the concept of fruit matching to new heights. Fruit nearly intersects every dish at his Uchiko restaurant. That’s quite a mind-bender considering this is a sushi mecca. Watermelon and big eye tuna? Of course. Visually they are kissing cousins.  Masterfully cut blocks of intense pink become augmented with cilantro paste and serrano oil. Your mouth never misses the rice.

Cole takes a shot at synthesizing dinosaur kale with salmon and blueberries.  Ask for Yokai Berry when ordering. It’s a sumo wrestle of sweet, bitter and umami.

Cooking at home: swordfish taco with watermelon, arugula & feta salad

Cooking at home: swordfish taco with watermelon, arugula & feta salad

Ina Garten instructs us to toss watermelon, arugula and feta for an unforgettable salad.

Mario Batali mixes things up with shredded duck and fig on pizza at Otto in New York.

Duck and fig pizza at Otto

Duck and fig pizza at Otto

The Italian kitchen known as Gusto, trips the lights fantastic with a frisee salad laced with candied pecans and sliced strawberries. An intense red circle of arrowheads are laid in ceremony around a pile of frothed greens. The effect is like dating a girl with red, curly hair and a Porsche.

Hang on. There’s going to be some g-forces whether you get into the car or not.

Gusto - frisee with strawberries

Frisee salad with strawberries, pecans and goat cheese at Gusto

So don’t pass up a recipe if there’s a fruit in it you don’t like. Find another that pleases the palate. Experiment. Columbus did not find the New World sitting at home.

More importantly take a critical eye to that mundane meal.  Need of a little gun powder to wake the senses?  Slip in a little natural sweet and stand back.

Want more inspiration? Ask the Google to take you for a ride. Check our this article from Parade.com for starters.

It’s okay to be twisted.  To be silly. It’s path to joy. Milten Bradley figured that out in 1966. What are you waiting for?

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