Welcome to an extra hot and spicy round of the Jezebel Summer Olympics. First, we’d like to take a moment here at the Jez Sports Network to thank today’s sponsor: peanut butter. If it’s peanuts and it’s butter? It’s probably edible. Having done all they could in the realm of arts and crafts for Wednesday’s competition, our Olympians turned their attention to the kitchen, where lead judge Clover Hope asked them to create a suitable lunch by combining two unexpected star ingredients. Since Clover and the panel of esteemed judges could not taste the lunches our competitors were judged on unexpected combos, presentation, and most importantly resourcefulness. Surprisingly, most of the contestants turned to peanut butter.
First up is two-time silver medalist Emily Alford, who baked a sweet and savory scone for the judges. “I decided on Canadian bacon and blueberry scones topped with cinnamon, salt, and sugar,” Alford told me as I hovered over her kitchen. “They’re finished with a maple syrup drizzle and whipped lemon ricotta.” Could this swine scone be the thing that pushed her all the way to gold?
Continuing the trend of meat products, Esther Wang submitted her signature “salami and peanut butter roll-up,” without the rollup, so as to fully display the coloring and smoothness of the peanut butter. When asked what brand of peanut butter she used, Wang said it was a treasured family secret and refused to go on record.
Accompanying the roll-ups is a sprig of dill, gently placed in the center of the platter. Notice the haphazard yet strategically placed butter knife strokes atop, the sign of a true artist.
Next, Hazel Cills presented an edible interpretation of Matisse’s The Goldfish with an array of organic bunny cheddar crackers swimming (drowning?) in a sea of chunky peanut butter. Here you can really see how the peanuts stand out from the butter, a testament of Hazel’s photography skills.
Lisa Fischer, who has been stuck in a cycle of bronze medals presented what she argues is “the most delicious” lunch of the entire field. “I have barely more than two items in my cupboard, to begin with,” Lisa said. “But this S’mores Pop-Tart covered in peanut butter just makes sense.” Lisa was applauded by the judges for her effort to find sense within the madness.
In an effort to wow the judges once again, Megan Reynolds combined more than two unexpected ingredients for a picnic-friendly canape made from “Ritz crackers, a smear of chipotle ranch yogurt dip, a dollop of peach preserves, topped with a pickled red onion.” After conferring with the judges, I was made aware that Megan would not be deducted any points for her lack of peanut butter in her recipe.
The final submission was from Rich Juzwiak, who went with the less is more approach to his presentation. “This is a spicy peanut butter protein shake,” Rich explained to the judges, “since these days I’m more inclined to drink my lunch than eat it. The star ingredients are Seven Farms creamy peanut butter and the Puckerbutt Pepper Company’s Reaper Sauce. I know I should have made something so unlikely as to be inedible, but I cannot bear to waste food so I’m actually drinking this as I type and it’s wonderful.”
It may be wonderful but is it medal-worthy?
For help, lead judge Clover turned to an outside counsel of food enthusiasts. Guest judge Clio Chang said of the submissions, “Hazel’s is a similar palate to Rich’s but not disgusting. The way the bunnies are dunked is very reflective of how I feel right now.” She added, “I think Esther gets the most innovative taste points. Rich’s is disgusting. You can tell him I said that.”
Another honorable judge, former Jezebel editor Katie McDonough, likewise favored Esther’s creative pairing. “Total freak move but the sweet-savory could work. Lisa’s does seem delicious, but there are many other ingredients in the Pop Tart.” Previous Jezlympics chair Joanna Rothkopf said of Rich’s concoction, “I don’t think a smoothie should count, but I do respect the inclusion of Reaper sauce. I respect Megan for combining those unexpected ingredients, and I do respect Rich for staying true to himself, but at the same time, we want to see growth?”
When deciding on the gold medalist, there was the looming question of whether Emily should win on the sheer merit of baking a scone considering no one has time for that and she did the baking in the middle of the workday in the middle of the heatwave. However, all the judges looked over the specific rules sent to contestants and scoured the Jezebel Olympics bylaws and determined that the scone did not reflect the resourceful requirement of the competition as much as other contestants and, therefore, failed to place. Esther, a clear frontrunner, delivered and won gold.
I asked Clover how she felt about making the painstaking decision and she said, “I do love the flavor combo. I’m sorry to Emily because it looks amazing but doesn’t reflect the true spirit of the competition.” She made sure to state the obvious: “These are all more like snacks... not a filling lunch. But what is lunch in the time of Corona?”
Gold medal: Esther Wang
Silver medal: Megan Reynolds
Bronze medal: Hazel Cills
Megan Reynolds: 1 gold, 2 silver
Hazel Cills: 1 gold, 1 bronze
Esther Wang: 1 gold, 1 bronze
Emily Alford: 2 silver
Rich Juzwiak: 1 gold
Lisa Fischer: 2 bronze