For the 14 year, people attending the Washington Farmers Market got a chance to vote for their choice of the top salsa in the area.
About 12 entries were placed on a table at the center of the market, with bowls of tortilla chips set up between the salsas. For fun, Market Master Bob Shepherd put a couple of store-bought salsas on the table, although he commented that those never do very well in the completion.
For the first time, Danielle Bombei put her cantaloupe salsa up against the other entries. While admitting the entry was a bit unusual, she said that she had a cantaloupe lying around her home and decided to use it in the salsa.
“I like to cut stuff up and throw it together and eat it,” she said. “I’m just hoping to sample some good salsas and take part in a fun community event.”
She encourages budding cooks to be creative and not be afraid to try throwing items together.
Initial reactions on Bombei’s salsa were very positive, although the people in line seemed to misidentify the fruit as peaches. The top three winners of the contest will be announced during the Sept. 5 farmers market and awarded a ribbon.
Third-year veteran of the salsa contest Kiersten Peck put her grilled tomatillo salsa up against the competition. In the past she has displayed fruit salsas, including, cherry, peach and mango.
“The secret is to stay up really late the night before the salsa contest putting the ingredients together,” she said with a chuckle. “You do it the night before so all the flavors can get together.”
Peck said that she had begun making salsa with her mother when she was very young. They still get together one weekend a year for salsa and pasta making.
Shepherd said that the event had begun with the realization that everything needed to make salsa was being sold at the market. Some people were even making their own salsa. He decided to have a contest.
“The best kind of contest is where the most number of people take part,” Shepherd said. “With taster’s choice, it means they are as much a part of the contest as the ones who make it.”
He said the sky was the limit as far as what could be included in the salsa. While some people had entered traditional garden salsa into the contest, others were made with many other ingredients added in.
Terry Engelken, a veteran taster for the contest, stood in line to let his taste buds determine who he felt should be the winners of this year’s contest. He said that the salsa contest was his favorite special event during the farmers market year.
“I like a little zing on it – a little bit of heat,” he said. “I like to try the different ones. I just like to try what people put together and see if I like it.”