Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No Quack!

I must confess a dirty little secret: I am a compulsive snoop at the supermarket! I can't help but cast my eyes into others' trolleys. The worst is when there is a long queue at the checkout as I then have time to indulge in this clandestine pleasure. Not only do I study the purchases but the purchasers. I have never failed to find obvious correlation between the physique of the customers and their groceries. I suppose the adage "you are what you eat" needs no further proof.

With such an opening, the sensitive subject of what we eat at home is inevitable. Guillermo recounted his dinner of soba noodles with wakame in miso broth to his relatives over the usual Sunday tea with ricotta cake and facturas (collective term for pastries such as medialunas, danish, etc.; the word factura, confusingly, also signifies receipt). They winced and said they suffered just hearing it. Sets of pupils dilated even further when my husband went on to describe the process of making soya milk at home. While Argentina produces much of the World's soya, enough to supply Japan and China, the Argentine consumption of the beans is minuscule.

By the end of that Sunday tea, Guillermo had managed to completely confound his extended family with his explanation of the Chinese doctrine of food being neutral, damp forming, heat generating, or cooling as opposed to the Argentine doctrine of food being rico (yummy) or asco (yucky).

He has only just started to grasp the concept himself – the physical form of the food does not give any clue of its properties. Not so long ago, he was puzzled by mangoes, soya, and dairies being damp forming and that a translucent lycee contains heat.

I began looking into Chinese medicinal nourishments and holistic treatments ever since I have been plagued by mysterious but persistent poor health. I overcame my fear of needles and benefited from a course of acupuncture and cupping treatments, administered by an UK trained acupuncturist, my good friend here in BA, Madeline Dempsey. My Chinese masseuse, Diana, has also been a godsend for she has opened my eyes to a whole new world of essere (to be, Italian).

She has explained to me how the magnetic fields of each location on planet earth determine what would grow or perish there; the natural rhythm of things – our friends and nemeses, love and loss, partings and unions are all predetermined by cosmic forces. So, to help me put out this "fire" burning inside as I enter into the "fire" cycle of my life in Argentina, she has instructed me to gather various herbs and dried fruits for nourishing medicinal soups, also dried flowers for daily infusions. Hence, I am drinking gallons of chrysanthemum infusion to control this inferno inside me. For if this flame is allowed to spread out of control, there will be total destruction.

Diana has generously given me some amber colour gelatine to strengthen my Yin. I am to go to Barrio Chino (China Town) to procure some lycium barbarum and angelica polymorpha, and then make a soup with all three ingredients. When I checked with my mother who is a treasure trove of knowledge in all things Chinese, I was told these amber slabs are equus asinus - donkey skin! And after drinking this donkey soup, I would have to make an infusion of liriope spicata to redress the balance of Yin & Yang.

Being Chinese is a mixed blessing; there are times when I wearily feel ignorance is bliss. I certainly need my husband's cooperation to keep this donkey business from his family; if making fresh soya milk causes dilation of the pupils, drinking soup made of cooked hide would certainly require an ambulance standing by.

Abuela (Grandmother) has inquired numerous times about our milk consumption. Since she sees that I don't take milk in my tea, she is probably worried that her precious grandson might end up with osteoporosis. I am surprised how few people know that sesame is a far superior source of calcium. Anyway, to appease the dairy supporters, I present to you black sesame ice cream, one of the most popular flavours in Asia.

9 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
6 tablespoons black sesame paste
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

Make sesame paste by grinding sesame and add 2 tbsp water.

Make the ice cream by whisking together the sugar, egg yolks and sesame paste in a medium bowl and set aside.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it boils. Add the sugar-egg-sesame mixture and cook together over medium heat, scraping around the pan with a spatula to keep the bottom from burning. When the mixture has reached runny custard texture, strain it quickly into a medium bowl and leave to cool.

Mix in the fresh cream and complete churning in an ice-cream maker.

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home