Who says research can’t be fun?

Published 5:10 pm Monday, July 15, 2019

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AMERICUS — Who says research can’t be fun?

Alexandria Cajuste, a junior at Georgia Southwestern State University majoring in long-term care management, knows that it can be. Working as a summer intern with the Sumter County Extension Office, University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension Service, Cajuste held a session recently to gather information for a study she’s undertaking. She’s interning with Mitzi Parker, family and consumer science agent.

Parker told the Times-Recorder that Cajuste had been working with Dr. Jennifer Cox of UGA, and had been charged with doing the research on some existing recipes. Recipes were prepared for adult and youth audiences in four districts. “Our goal is to reach 100 people,” she said, “50 youth and 50 adults.”

From left, Crystal Wright, Sumter County Extension 4-H agent, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service, and her summer intern, Chasity King, a senior at GSW, were among the tasters.

The sensory evaluation was conducted with two variations of a recipe known as Southern Salsa. One contained black-eyed peas, green bell pepper, Roma tomatoes, green onions, along with some herbs and spices, all served on a scoop chip. The other type was similar but contained whole kernel corn and black beans. Parker said that all ingredients are exactly the same in all four districts.

The “tasters,” people from the community who responded to the public invitation, were required to rinse their mouths with water before tasting the sample, and then record their overall perception on a ballot. Each tester was required to taste two samples of each variation and record their perceptions regarding taste, texture, and appearance. Shazia Alam, a Sumter County 4-H volunteer assisted Cajuste.

Elizabeth Greene and daughter London Greene were also among the tasters.

While all in the name of research, the participants enjoyed each other’s company as well. One taster, when the floor was opened to questions, asked, “Where’s the meat?” Another taster suggested that most people wouldn’t like cold black-eyed peas. Both of these were men.

No matter; some tasters even requested a copy of the simple variations of the salsa recipe.