It is time to kick off the latest round of Paper Chef. We got very many fewer ingredient nominations than normal although the pre-existing list was already so eclectic it may just have left potential nominators in a stupor!

Anyway, I have in the past indicated how I select the three random ingredients. I usually use the website, because it generates true random sequences using atmospheric noise – how cool is that? I do, however, reserve the right to reject sets of ingredients if they just seem too stupid. In practice, however, I rarely exercise this option because after the success of the eggplant, chocolate, stale bread and pomegranate edition, anything seemed possible.

It has been fun seeing the fourth special ingredient morph over time from a simple ingredient choice (eg lemon) to the more exotic topical and subject choices. This month is typical of the latter category. For no reason at all other than that I would like to step further afield in our choices, this month’s special ingredient is something that reminds you of Africa.

And the atmospherically-generated random choices? Eggs, black fermented soy beans and giblets. If you look at the ingredient list you can see that these are a statistically anomalous cluster all at the beginning of the list. Such are the whims of fate and global warming….

So, here we go:

1. Eggs – nothing controversial here but if you are vegan or egg-intolerant feel free to substitute anything that reminds you of eggs.
2. Black fermented soy beans – seems exotic but is found in the Chinese section of most supermarkets labelled as black beans or black bean sauce – this is the stuff of your chinese takeout chicken in black bean sauce. Again – substitute away if unavailable or inedible to you. Maybe unfermented regular black beans as found in many a Mexican plate would substitute?
3. Giblets – here is where I anticipate some stonewalling. How about any form of offal? It isn’t really all that awful. If not or if a vegetarian, then I’d go with something a little challenging as a substitute.
4. Something that reminds you of Africa – you are on your own here….

I can see a whole lot of possibilities here but being realistic not all that many desserts.

Once again, official ‘more like guidelines’ are here. You have until Tuesday Noon PST this time. Why Tuesday? Because Monday is a big ol’ holiday in the US.

UPDATE!: I keep forgetting to stress that you should nominate your dish(es) for either the ‘haute’ division or the ‘home’ division. These are actually more philosophical divisions than anything. Some of our participants like to go all out for top level presentation, flair, etc. Others just want a challenge for dinner. Some thrive on the bright lights of the virtual studio and others are intimidated by the ubiquitous cameras. So select your division or direction. And feel free to enter in both. This is meant to be a low-stress event.

Judge this time around – who I have arrogantly just assumed will take on the responsibility – is, as usual, last times’ winner, Ilva, at Lucullian Delights.

Have fun!

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