28.7.11

nourishing in alpha road

lamb chop with anchivy-tomato sauce

cook (n.):
O.E. coc, from V.L. cocus "cook," from L. coquus, from coquere "to cook, prepare food, ripen, digest, turn over in the mind" from PIE base *pekw- "to cook" (cf. Oscan popina"kitchen," Skt. pakvah "cooked," Gk. peptein, Lith. kepti "to bake, roast," O.C.S. pecenu "roasted," Welsh poeth "cooked, baked, hot"). Germanic languages had no one native term for all types of cooking, and borrowed the Latin word (cf. O.S. kok, O.H.G. choh, Ger. Koch, Swed. kock).
There is the proverb, the more cooks the worse potage. [Gascoigne, 1575]
i think while i am in my english greenhills home, i spend majority of the time doing something very specific: cooking.  i spend the most time physically in the kitchen (which gets the lovely late sun till the dusk and since it's been recently scrubbed, it's even more pleasant to be here).  i often walk to the local shop or the next town to pick up random groceries.  the chinley shop, the one and only general shop in the village, sells most things with a bit of premium (understandable, it being a small shop) along with their daily changing specials: i think they are overflow stocks from local farms and small independent sellers as they come in crates and boxes, with ridiculously low prices, with no solidified planning/specials.   and yes, these specials often determine what i would cook.

poor small fishes, ready for grilling

another thing is being far away from the city centre, it makes more sense to actually cook many specialties at home, rather than making a tedious trek to manchester for (in my opinion, as a spoiled toronto food enthusiast) expensive and not-so-authentic ethnic food.  though the local pub in the next village does excellent beers and great food (if you make it before 9pm that is, which sounds easier than done)- their fish/chips is one of the best things i always look forward to when im coming back here.

the city life in toronto makes it rather difficult to cook the same way i do here. the abundance of cheap (and good) options to eat out and the bother of hauling groceries on bicycle, up the elevator to 32nd floor, the boringness of my grocery store ( the nearest ones are either metro or rabba's, not brilliant), time constraints, conscious effort of eating healthy (for self and roomie), all these things usually led to nutritious yet predictable variations on a few themes: brown rice/pasta, a bit of meat, loads of greens. as much as i would like to vary the cooking pattern, it is quite difficult!

growing up a transplant of asian descent in north america gave certain advantages, a few being useful and practical (ie. work ethics), along with a few built-in indulgences (learning how to cook from mom/granny).  during my grad studies years, i was lucky enough to learn some seriously authentic cooking techniques from many different people- especially for latino food.  and yes, it is funny in a sense that i can still whip out more authentic chinese food at home than in a restaurant in manchester.  things that were learned through mealtime and through heart, i am sure.  a well-made food certainly does more than just providing calories: nourishment.

behold, bacon-fried egg buttie!

we had some really nice meals here in our kitchen, whether it's between minnow and i, or with company of local friends- and this year has been rather colourful, with great summer bounties, chinley store specials and a couple trips to the ethnic grocers during frequent trip to manchester during dr. dee days, the tag-along city days with minnow (in studio, working, haha).  and yesterday was a particularly nice one, as we were able to create a nice evening not in 3 alpha, but in good friends' house.  since steve had a freak fall that involved open-leg surgery, minnow and i thought it would be lovely to do something nice, like a dinner.  however, him still recovering from the surgery, we thought it may be nice to go to theirs to cook and eat, so if steve wants to pass out after a meal to sleep, to heal, it'll be much easier.

so around 7pm, with a bustle,we brought a few things in the car, to do roll-your-own sushi (called temaki), some fat okonomiyaki (fat savory japanese pankaces) with kaiso soup while the young daughter had the comfort of home to entertain herself rather than being tied to the dining chair.  and last but not the least, a bottle of moet from damon albarn, for the last day of dr. dee production for the manchester international festival (minnow was leading the pit orchester; what a talented and diversified man)-  if steve did not fall, he wouldve gotten one himself anyways, but unfortunately he had his accident and was not able to play his cello- instead, he was quietly recovering back at home, in haze of painkillers and fatique. but at least he is recovering- so why not share such nice gesture from damon with even nicer people? (moet was actually quite nice, thanks damon, a bit rounder than my usual veuve cliquot). the night lasted well close to midnight and it was so nice, to be able to share and present something authentic and unsual (for here in rural uk).

day before was a bon-voyage dinner for minnow's offspring no. 2, as him and his gf are heading to poland for a shot vacation with his mom.  knowing that they are game for pretty much anything, we did thai red curry, with loads of veggies and nice stock.  the plates were polished with eagerness and yes, there really isnt anything like clean plates for satisfying a cook. yay.

making some veggie inari sushi (in tofu pockets)

it always takes a bit more resource and planning ahead to pull of kitchen stunts here (for instance, to get some sushi rice, it took us couple trips to different shops, finally finding some in manchester, not in any local shops). and i do find it amusing that i do make many eastern asian dishes, though my own heritage food, korean, making the least number of entries.  i would like to make more, but the scarcity and rarity of korean ingredients makes it difficult to do so. most of the time, korean foods in 3 alpha has been somewhat modified.  oh how i wish i could make some authentic things! haha. at least the audiences have enjoyed every bit of the food.

when i was younger, we always ate as family, with plenty of action across the table. sharing. bickering.  then as i got older, i learned to enjoy food- and the process of cooking. as not-so-wealthy grad students, we always threw resources together to make feasts of all sorts- getting around to get cheap yet good ingredients, teaching one another how to make and eat food from one's own culture. so in a sense, not just the meal itself, but cooking has became a sort of nourishment for everyone involved.  and i am glad to continue that in chinley, as there is something really exciting while describing and teaching cooking tips so simple as making soup stocks (clear dashi style) to seasoning rice for sushi.  it's not just about consumption and nutrition, but of important human social behaviors- communicating, sharing, gathering, expressing.  and i will always be thankful to my mother and granny, for sharing the importance of learning how to cook and the importance of sharing.

crisp salmon skin for making temaki

if you are ever in the area, let me know. let's break some bread and roll some vietnamese rice paper rolls. we could do some chipotle chili pork ribs or make some korean noodle soup.  what a pleasure to eat and to share!

1 comment:

  1. what a pleasure to eat - and share; I think you said, and I concur... spectacular foodie stuff throughout. the pictures look good, but the food was better. Thanks for sharing.

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