A time of Lychee

Just about this time of the year, in Hong Kong one begins to anticipate the new crop of Lychee. The sweet, almost rose scented flavour of fresh lychee, for me, is a harbinger of summer–a time for slowing down a bit, for refreshing oneself in the sea, for drinking cocktails on the veranda of some gentrified colonial building or in a modern rooftop garden. Lychees can be made into drinks, eaten just as they are, or, as I liked to eat them, tossed into this salmon salad. Continue reading

Learning to cook and sensory food capacities

Learning to cook and haptic food capacities

I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in about 35 years. I took a cooking class. The last time I had formal cooking lessons was when I was in junior high school. In exchange for being allowed to use one of my class periods to work the the school office (for free and where I learned to file), I agreed that I would also take home economics (what is now understood as domestic science). In my school home economics involved learning to sew from a pattern, and some very basic cooking skills. We learned, for example, how to overcook minced beef and the proper doneness of green beans. Yesterday’s lesson was somewhat more inspiring. Continue reading

After work family eating

Chicken home grown

I was talking with a couple of my work colleagues this week about family eating. Putting aside that a number of us do research on food related topics, even those who do not do this kind of work are pretty food aware. There is a member of staff who works on ice fields, but also raises sheep for wool and food (see the post about his lamb here), another member of staff is involved in bee keeping with his local church (he also sells the honey in the department), many of us have small vegetable plots.  I have raised chickens.  An even larger number cook. This provides great opportunities for recipe sharing. Continue reading

When life gives you half price figs, make jam (and a tart)

FigsFigs were half price at our local Waitrose this autumn.  I bought enough to make a batch of Marmellata di Fichi (Fig Jam).  This is made pretty much like any other jam thought the ratio of sugar to fig is a bit less (I used 1.5 Kg of figs and 600g of caster sugar).  I also added the zest of one lemon, the juice of half of the lemon and about 3 teaspoons of Chinese 5 spice (I know not the traditional Italian recipe).  I think Chinese 5 spice should be used more widely.  The mix I have consists of ginger, star anise, fennel, cinnamon, and cloves.  It is wonderful in most things where you want a bit of Christmas-y/ Autumn-y hint.

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Holiday feastings and meanings of fresh

Chatsworth EstateChristmas dinner is always a bit of a challenge in our house.  In the period before we moved to Hong Kong I would always cook a whole salmon.  The first year we lived in Hong Kong, I ventured to the wet market to purchase a fish.  Salmon are not widely available in Hong Kong, certainly not in the markets, so I got some other fish.  I’ve still no idea what it was, but I do know we all got really ill.  For the next two years I ordered the whole meal from a restaurant in Sai Kung, which arrived hot and tasted lovely, but was mostly turkey imported from the US.  This year I am cooking venison purchased locally.  What strikes me about this tale of food feasts is what we understand about what comprises fresh food and how that is so linked up with cultural differences.

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(Not) a middle class point of view: Bloke’s Pasta.

Tonight, for dinner, I made a family favorite: a modified version of “Proper blokes’ sausage fusilli”.   My version is an adaptation of a recipe in Jamie Oliver’s “Cook with Jamie“, which he wrote to help people “learn to cook properly and enjoy it (back cover).” I originally purchased the book (cost $16.99–though I think I might have gotten it for less at Cosco) to give to my son so he could feel confident in a kitchen.  This dish is the one thing he has ventured from the book, though I have made many other things from it with good results.  The book was written about the time that Jamie Oliver was beginning to try to have a food revolution in the UK, certainly before he really started talking to people who might consider themselves “ordinary folk”.  As a result, the food, despite the ordinary and everyday language of the book and the best intentions of the author, is really not sympathetic to the economic needs of those “ordinary folk”.   Continue reading