Food corner

"Like all foods, bread is a nexus of economic, political, aesthetic, social, symbolic, and health concerns. As traditionally the most important food in the Sardinian diet, bread is a particularly sensitive indicator of change."

Carole M Counihan

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Cheaper by the oven's sausage, lentil and bacon stew

Updated on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 10:16PM by Registered CommenterVix

My fridge is almost completely empty. There are still plenty of jars of things, but nothing fresh other than milk. My cupboards are full of grains, pulse and spices and the freezer is stocked with various meats, but I usually like a bit of green with my red and brown so I am not even trying to be inspired to make a meal out of it.

Monday is usually shopping night, but I had a bit too much to drink over the weekend and was feeling lazy and tired. I also spent too much money, which paired with the big bills this month means I am on a bit of a budget.

In my lethargic state I spent the evening trawling the 100s of blogs in my Google reader drooling over dishes I had no intention of cooking or hope of eating any time in the near future... until I got to Cheaper by the oven.  

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Sex and satay (yes, really)

I have often heard people say that bad sex is worse than no sex at all. I think the same applies to satay.

Hear me out.

It may not apply to blokes but, generally speaking, a girl’s libido diminishes the longer it has been, over time we tend to stop thinking about it so much. But as soon as we are reminded of how good it is, or how good it could be, we find ourselves craving it again.

Well, call me what you will, but I have the same problem with food.

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Tommy K, Bloody Mary style

Updated on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 9:49AM by Registered CommenterVix

People are often surprised that, as a ‘foodie’, I like certain foods deemed ‘junk’ by most. I am talking about tin spaghetti, plastic cheese, chicken nuggets, fish fingers... that sort of thing. I think really they are secretly pleased because, in all honesty, I have never met someone who didn’t secretly have some such vice. For me it goes back to childhood; my sister and I were only allowed these foods as treats so it still feels a little bit naughty indulging in them from time to time.

When we were in NZ, our host Dawn cooked a magnificent fry up the morning of the wedding (sadly, I have no photos, otherwise it would have been included in my post on the subject). As part of this feast, she cooked something I would never have dared try – ‘tin style’ spaghetti in tomato sauce. It was brilliant! Even my Mum (hater of all things junk) commented on how good it was. The trick was that she did not try to make it posh. There were no herbs or aromatics, it was just simple, sweet tomato sauce with intentionally overcooked spaghetti. Just like the tin... but better.

Now let me get something straight before you all give up on me now: I do not think tomato ketchup should be or ever would be labelled as junk – I’ve never met anyone who didn’t eat it. The above is relevant because, until recently, I was also of the opinion that this was something that one should not try to replicate, better to leave that to Mr Heinz. But, here's the thing, Dawn's tomato ketchup was homemade too.

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Tetsuya's restaurant; a special occasion

On 10th November 2010 one of my favourite people in the whole wide world turned 21. Sadly, as I live on the other side of the world I missed the big day and the big party thrown in her honour a few days later. So I wanted to do something special to make it up. That special something was Tetsuya’s.

Tetsuya's cuisine is unique, based on the Japanese philosophy of natural seasonal flavours, enhanced by classic French technique and the freshest possible ingredients.” It has long been considered among Australia’s top restaurants. It has won numerous awards, including restaurant of the year almost every year since 1992 from various sources,  best Australasian restaurant on six occasions, and a place on the world’s 50 best restaurant list since 2002, coming fourth in 2005 and fifth in 2006 and 2007. Until this year Tetsuya’s had retained three chef’s hats, the highest rating in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide (akin to three Michelin stars). I was disappointed to learn that it had lost a hat in the year I finally decided to go, but my friend Dash put a positive spin on it: “It will be even better; they’ve given him a kick up the bum."

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One of the nice things about writing this blog is that I find out a lot of interesting things in the process. I have been making larb for years – it is a staple canapé for our annual Christmas Eve party and Dad entrusted me with it early on because it is extremely easy. I have always thought it was ubiquitous in Thai cuisine, just as it is in Sydney’s Thai restaurants, but I have just discovered that it is actually a regional dish from Isan, in north east Thailand, and probably originated further afield. In his book, Thai Food, David Thompson shares some theories on the salad’s historic origins:

A larp is an ancient salad. Some argue that it has the same origins as steak tartare, raw meat eaten with onions. The merchants of this part of Asia, the Haw, may have helped to spread the dish from the south-west of China and now, throughout northern Thailand, there are adaptations of this style of salad. 

Wikipedia suggests that larb may have come to Thailand from Laos:

Laotian cuisine has strongly influenced the neighboring cuisine of Northeastern Thailand (Isan) ... The most famous Laotian dish is Larb ... a spicy mixture of marinated meat and/or fish that is sometimes raw (prepared like ceviche) with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices. 

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