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How to use special ingredients to make cheaper food seem special

karykat | May 9, 200807:15 PM

The thread about recession cuisine has given me some good ideas.

Here's a related question: How can you take a special ingredient -- maybe even a luxury ingredient -- to make food that is inexpensive seem special. So that it doesn't seem like so much of a sacrifice.

One ingredient that came to me is smoked paprika. It has such a special flavor that it seems like it can elevate things that would otherwise seem very plain and modest. Like a potato soup, say.

What special ingredients would you nominate for this kind of purpose and how do you use them?

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