March 08, 2009

The Yin and Yang of Food

The power of the taste buds is really something.  We've been here a full week, and in that time, Chinese cuisine has made up about 50% of our diet.  We had some wonderful dishes in the first few days we were here: tofu, steamed vegetables, eggplant in sauce, fried something-or-other with Szechuan peppers (strange little things with a burst of flavour very much like Sen-Sen), and many more.  We've eaten the eponymous Peking Duck, little crepes and all.  We've supped on steamed dumplings with a rainbow of fillings.  We've nibbled on lamb kabobs, fried egg pockets, and bean-filled bread.
But a tragedy occurred.  The flu.  It has (temporarily) killed my enjoyment of all this food I found so appealing only days ago.  Appealing to appalling, lickety-split.  In fact, just the scent of sesame oil made me a little woozy this afternoon.  Admittedly, it might have something to do with the fact that I've had the unrequested honour of sopping up partially digested portions of our meals whenever Ari decides it's time to blow chunks.  (The Peking Duck sauce smelled more than a little bit like vomit to me...)
No, there's more to it than that.  Stomachs, or more importantly, tongues, are like sponges.  They can only soak up so much until they become completely saturated.  And my tongue is saturated with the aromas and saveurs of China.  For now, anyway.
As a result, tonight we made Indian food.  I realize that for some, this would be no answer to the call for the familiar.  But we made a lot of Indian food in Winnipeg.  The real challenge for me was that I've always relied on readi-made (yes, hyphenated) spice packages.  But tonight I mixed my own blend of cumin, turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt.  No mace.  No fenugreek.  No mandlabuprachaderpandadesh (we were fresh out).  I couldn't find lentils in the market, so I boiled mung bean until it was soft and mushy.  In went fried garlic, ginger, eggplant and tomatoes.  Very tasty.  We picked up a mango chutney from a local Western store (yes, an oxymoron), which went together with the meal very nicely.
The take-home message from all of this is: A) we're not 100% assimilated yet (apparently it takes longer than a week...); B) diversity is a pleasant thing in a diet (just ask the Irish); and C) mung bean can substitute for lentils in a pinch (in fact, I recommend it).


Dustin said...

that actually looks super tasty... and I know what you mean about saturation.. sometimes you just need a change.

the land said...

Word to the woozy: mung is the easiest bean to digest, according to ayurvedic principles.
So keep the mung hummin'!