Monday, April 26, 2010

Provenance.

I have a strange fixation, bordering psychological complex, about the provenance of my food. Not necessarily the specific grower, farm, or more recent origins; rather, its original homeland. When first diagnosed with Celiac, I dug around in research papers and read about the evolution of digestion, and Celiac Disease's prevalence in Northern European countries, whose inhabitants were more recently introduced to wheat. Resultantly, their digestive systems have had a shorter time to adapt these proteins into their diets, than, say, African nations. This grabbed hold of my mind; a fixated point. How interesting. How logical.

A nation's foods and dietary staples, evolve with and often for, complimentary results. Books and articles have been written by many more learned than I, about the development of nations' diets, the reason certain spices and seasonings are used (often originating for life-saving purposes, their reasons chemically unbeknown at the time, but their results proven), the migration of food across cultural barriers, and benefit's integrity lost in some of these melting pots. Now, this is not to say that I am some freakish promoter of homogeneous food selection. However, certain foods were made to go together; they meet with a sigh in the belly, like friends from the old country, meeting after years absence...their flavours mingling with the gentle reunion of Place and heritance remembered.

Or, does this acknowledgement of originating place, purpose, and resultant end, acceding that meaning is tied tightly to individual factor; one removed, and the meaning ebbs, flowing into something altered...is this tied to my library and archival training? Ingrained in my mind is the belief that influences, even the smallest, have an effect on the larger whole and on the final end, even outlasting The Thing, and continuing on after the place of provenance and originator/collector has passed...

This fixation, nay, admitted psychological complex, about country specific dining, underlies all my meals. To cross borders in my tummy, a feat armies and great kings and warriors could oft times not breach, seems wrong.

Tonight was going to be "Eastern European." Buckwheat, "kasha," being a Russian grain, was going to be paired with the cold weather green, curly kale. This seemed right.

Notice past-tense.

Another oddity of mine, is that I have food ADD, if such a thing exists. My moods are married to the weather, and flux with its fickletry. This is why I cannot shop in advance. I can sit and plan my weeks meals, but seldom to I feel like eating what I planned.

Today started with a gleaming spring layer of snow; the daffodils drooped weary heads and the tulips closed their eyes tightly. It was chilly. Something warm should be had. But, as kasha boiled upon a burner and steam rose up for kale, I got distracted by cold rice. Leftover cold rice. The sky had cleared and the morning's white dust had disappeared, swept away by the sun, its presence now only in higher places. In the refrigerator door, there rice sat, in a short tubby little jar: "Eat Me." And, I felt inclined to accept its unsolicited offer.

But rice and kale? Those seem doomed for an unhappy relationship. Bickering would ensue, of this I was sure; their cultural differences would make for an unfortunate union of souls. (Only further enabling of this obsessive matchmaker pastime, I picked up at the library tonight, The Flavor Bible, and a quick flipping of pages promises fruitful fuel for my mind's duties, posed readily as emissary between flavors; food's Yente.)

Quick, quick! Vegetable matter's provenance was sought...Rice, lettuce, radishes, and azuki beans. Ural influences wandered farther east, to a higher mountain range's influence; East Asia and the Himalayas. Azuki beans are even honored with their own Pepsi flavor in Japan.

This, was a perfect union. A pairing of flavors and rooted destiny.


~ A Salad of Compatibility ~

Cold rice
Romaine lettuce
Radishes
Azuki beans
Olive oil
Sea salt
Pepper

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see you are back:-) I have missed my morning readings but I know you were distracted by visitors over the weekend. Your cold rice salad looks yummy but I do have to admit that I have steamed kale and rice often and they do not duke it out in my tummy.

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