Revisited: Now we’re cooking … with crackers

There’s been quite an explosion in culinary creativity in recent years. Things that just were not done with foods in the past are now being routinely cooked up by top-flight chefs as well as amateurs in their home kitchens. Taste combinations we couldn’t fathom ten years ago – lamb and Pez, free-range chicken and bubblegum, eggplant and Chloraseptic, pomegranate and mint-flavored toothpaste – are now so commonplace as to be almost ordinary.

Television, at least at some level, seems to have had a large part in driving this revolution. Shows like “Top Chef,” “Iron Chef” and “You Think You Can Cook? Well, Think Again” are all over the airwaves, showcasing cooks with stars in their eyes and eyeballs in their soups. Celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain, known for using his lit cigarettes as a heat source for his famous fondues, and Andrew Zimmern, the “Bizarre Foods” guy who recently added blown-out retreads and chunks of asphalt to the carbon-based matter he’s willing to consume, are well known and admired, assuming they’re still alive as of this writing. Racheal Ray brings less exotic ideas like pasta-stuffed Mom jeans to dinner tables all over the country.

But even at the everyday level where most of us live, we see these changes. Fast food restaurants that once offered only regular French fries, now also offer curly fries and seasoned fries. Pizza toppings, the most exotic of which used to be anchovies, now include pine nuts, pine cones and pine tar. You can even buy a hamburger that has another hamburger on top of it.

Large corporations have been quick to join in on this anything-goes bandwagon with suggestions of their own, cooked up in the same kitchens that brought us such entrees as high-interest junk bonds and collateralized mortgage originations. It’s a great opportunity to team even the most pedestrian snack foods with exotic recipes in the interest of selling more Fritos and Twizzlers.

One such company is Nabisco, makers of not only nature’s most perfect food, the Oreo, but also saltines, more formally known as Original Premium Saltine Crackers. The quick and easy recipe on packaging now on the shelves is the Grilled Steak Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing. Below is the actual recipe:

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Sprinkle steak with chili powder. Grill steak 7 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, toss lettuce with tomatoes, onion and olives. Place Italian dressing and avocado in blender and blend until smooth. Cut steak into thin slices; arrange over salad. Drizzle with dressing mixture.

And then, the final and, some would say, most important step: Serve with the crackers.

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