Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

A pinhole for yer piehole

December 27, 2007

Justin Quinnell's in-mouth pinhole photography
Justin Quinnell’s in mouth pinhole photography, image used entirely without permission

debra at 15:40 | Comments (0) | post to

Welcoming the wood,
Culiblog is finally back in the house

December 22, 2007

Spice burning ritual for moving back in my home
HeeJin igniting the aromatic herbs

It was probably the lingering paint fumes that prompted Katja to suggest designing an aromatic ‘welcoming the wood’ ritual to get the good vibe back into my home. HeeJin, Katja and I adhoc’d three rituals, two of them aroma-centric involving spice-burning and copious amounts of kimchi. We also decided on a third less aromatic ritual involving generously overflowing tequila shots and representing the overflowing happiness which will take place in this new home. And studio. And kitchen studio.

Spices old and new for the moving back in ritual
Spices lit for the smoldering

Sage is commonly used to inaugurate new spaces, but I associate sage in its dried form with sinus issues and decided that a mixture of herbs would be more fitting for this occasion. I combined a masala of dried sage (for scent and smoldering) with chai mix (ground and given to me by the owner of Balraj, the Indian restaurant that was my sustanence in the 4 months of living without a kitchen), cardamom (because a day without is more difficult than a day with), sumac (because this will be the new spice in my life), bay laurel (because it reminds me of my other two Heimatts, where it grows wild), and of course the sacred herb (homegrown, and gifted from my favourite Friesian farm). HeeJin and Katja lit the herbs, and we roamed throughout the apartment blowing the wafting smoke into every corner and cabinet for good luck.

HeeJin Won makes a kimchi pancake
HeeJin shows us how to make a kimchi pancake

Now that the house smelled great, and the sacred herb doing its thing, it was time for the kimchi portion of the ritual. Hailing from the Zion of kimchi, HeeJin set to work preparing pancakes from whole wheat and rice flour, the available veg and some aged and aromatic’ kimchi that was already busy inaugurating the fridge. The pancakes reminded me of Indian pakoras and I’ve decided that they would make a good winter breakfast or snack. HeeJin said that this is Korean comfort food and I was pleased that the evening’s aroma rituals included this auspicious food and panacea.

I won’t describe the final ritual involving the tequila shots because surely everyone knows this ritual already. The past 4 months were like live/working with one arm tied behind my back and now each step of real-homemaking brings me back to myself. It was the longest night of the year but the first real feeling of a night at, no, in my HOME, with friends. Amen to that.

Kimchi pancake batter is not particularly photogenic
Not entirely photogenic, kimchi pancake batter

Golden kimchi pancake
Golden delicious, not unlike a large pakora

debra at 14:42 | Comments (6) | post to

Chanukkah, the fesitval of
using oil responsibly

December 8, 2007

Dutch snackbar sign about certified responsible deep fryer oil
This Dutch snackbar certification sign says, ‘Heq yes, we fry responsibly. We use liquid fryer fat and we follow the rules of responsible frying.’

This year I decided to celebrate Chanukkah. Probably it’s because the past 4 months during the renovation of my home I’ve been so homesick that the story of my ancestors rededicating a sacred place resonates strongly with me. Tuesday afternoon I adhoc’d together a beautiful menorah and have been lighting candles every night. My goal is to move back home before the end of Chanukkah next Tuesday, and failing that, I’ve decided to continue celebrating Chanukah until I can move back into my home. Chanukkah in July.

Sound crazy? There’s historical precedence for all of this, although not exactly in this form. I hope it doesn’t take this form with me.

Without going into a shred of detail, the story of Chanukkah involves a one-day batch of sacred oil that miraculously stretched itself for eight days. During the eight days of Chanukkah, we light candles to remember the miracles, deliverance, and mighty deeds that both our ancestors and that we ourselves have known.

On the food front, traditional Chanukkah fare is fried in oil, liberal amounts of one hella lotta oil. Because there was this miracle with the oil, right? Now I don’t know why it took me so long to question the logic of this, but why do we celebrate this miracle of oil conservation by massively increasing oil consumption? Shouldn’t we be eating the opposite of oily foods? Shouldn’t Chanukkah be an oil fast, a holiday of raw and steamed vegetables and bike riding? Peak Oil for Jews?

Taken from the 1901-1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain

debra at 2:00 | Comments (1) | post to

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