Tag Archives: Food

I Nearly Served You Bugs

Two facts which may be inter-related: I have a cast-iron stomach. I have a tendency to experience my world through taste.

Evidence supporting Fact #1: Not counting years beyond my conscious recall (say, prior to primary school), I have suffered less than ten episodes of vomiting nausea. This figure includes those episodes unfortunately induced by excessive alcohol consumption (hello, Gloucester Rd tube). A gastro bug for me involves lots of time sitting in a small room wishing in vain that I could empty my stomach upwards rather than downwards.

Evidence supporting Fact #2: I see weird stuff, I want to taste it. Think beached jellyfish, orange wood fungus, strange white clusters of bubbles on eucalypt leaves, random berries on random shrubs, seaweeds, witchetty grubs. My experience of nature is incomplete if I can only see, hear, smell and touch it.

That wise monkey with his hands over his mouth? He’s not speaking no evil, he’s snarfing a possible bush-food.

So when I realised, while cooking a late dinner, that the pasta had been joined in the boiling water by a small collection of minuscule baby cockroaches, I wasn’t going to tell you.

Scoop them out, most certainly. This took a few minutes, and my arm was nicely steamed. But I was reasonably confident I had them all out. No mysterious speckling in the capellini.

I thought about all the fine meals you have cooked me, and wondered if you had ever faced a similar dilemma. Slightly delirious with hunger, boiling up the last of the long pasta… Surely the essence of baby cockroach would be an imperceptible, proteinaceous addition to the bolognese?

I sighed. Your distinct lack of enthusiasm for sampling the flotsam and jetsam of our nature walks did not bode well for your appreciation of the essence of baby cockroach. And if I kept it from you, well, that would be a dark secret, a festering sore on the gastronomic soul of our relationship.

Furthermore, if I was willing to eat (and share) baby cockroach, where would it end? If rice-grain sized cockroaches are ok, why not oat flake sized? Or those little German ones? Why not bite the head off a nice, clean, mouse-sized native Australian bush cockroach? Surely they’d taste like gumleaves?

A creepy, crawly, slippery slope.

I fessed up. I ate a cracker, and set another pot to boil. Penne bolognese would suffice.

That was the night I almost served you bugs.


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Yum Cha My Life

I have been boring/busy/uninspired lately so have spared the world the detail. Now however I feel like downloading a sampling of tasty treats from my consciousness. You could probably drink a nice cup of jasmine tea while you read it because I fear I may be about to babble.

It is one month precisely until exams. Starting with OSCEs, which stand for something about Clinical and Examination and other than that I’m still at a loss. Suffice to say that a month from now I will be required to do 13 stations of ten minutes each in which my clinical competence will be assessed.

This week I feel I am completely prepared for the “Close the Curtain Around the Bed During Ward Rounds” station and the “Theoretically Sanitise Your Hands With Stinky Pink Antimicrobial Handrub” station. Other than that, I feel my competence needs some finessing.

Failed attempt at inserting IV cannula today, needs more practice. See above.

Currently on the ward we have a patient who is 101 years old. Day one on ward rounds, she grabbed my hand and clutched it throughout the consultation. I felt some kind of connection with history and a good-going tremor. Anyway, we are clearly friends.

Day two on ward rounds, she asked me if I have any Chinese blood in me. Not that I know of, though people do seem to think so on a relatively frequent basis. In practical terms, this translates to people speaking to me in languages I do not yet recognise, getting chili on my Vietnamese chicken rolls as a matter of course, and not being denied such delicacies as beef tendon or chicken feet when at Yum Cha. Non-membership still has its privileges.

Day three, today, my super-centenarian announced straight up that she owed me an apology for asking if I was of Chinese descent. I assured her that no apology was necessary. Apparently I reminded her of a friend (insert potentially-patient-identifying historical facts here) from some time before the television was invented or possibly the gold rush era. I have no clue as to why this should offend me.

Straight after this consultation my entire team suddenly felt a desperate desire to know my ethnic origins. Which are distinctly unremarkable. I look like my grandma, though not quite as wrinkly or diminutive. Possibly certain of my great-grandfolk came from Wales or Cornwall or the Baltic states, but no, generally I don’t deserve the chicken feet.

Speaking of feet, I have been doing some running in a now-thwarted attempt to get fit, get healthier, decrease my pre-exam stress levels and generally have a low-cost low-maintenance sporting and social outlet. Most of that worked, except that I apparently have done something to irritate my sciatic nerve and now it has been suggested I stop running for a few weeks. Back to the swimming pool. Annoyed.

In January 2010 I had Yum Cha twice in two days and I haven’t been able to eat it since. Primarily because this town does not extend to Yum Cha. But still.

Girlfriend is such a stupid word for someone I’ve been living with/in love with for eleven years. Partner is too sterile. Fiancée is illegal. My Most-Preferred Yum Cha Companion will have to do for today. Naturally I am worried that this is somehow an offensive term. She is probably more worried that it is 10:40pm and I am not yet asleep.

Tonight I ducked out to drop the DVD equivalent of chicken soup to a nosocomially-infected friend (Series II, Friends) and on my return, my MPYCC was casually whipping up a sweet ginger syrup to accompany some silken tofu we happened to have in the fridge.

My life is pretty good.

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Game for Two Players, #1

Today, my mother and her father had my father’s mother and his brother, sister and my cousin around for Boxing Day lunch. Most Christmases, my mother and grandfather kind of crash my dad’s side of the family’s lunch. That’s their thing. My dad’s family is too polite and too compassionate to say hey, it’s been twenty-five years since you dumped our son, find yourselves a new family. They are lovely like that.

Meanwhile, this year, my dad and i are well out of harm’s way.

I called my mother yesterday on account of it being Christmas’n’all. She felt the need to tell me what dish she had asked my grandmother to bring along: “Her jellied vegetables.” Now, I’ve only known my grandma now for my entire life, and i think i’d remember jellied vegetables, whether or not they were officially accorded signature dish status. Grated carrot in agar with pineapple? Just not ringing any bells.

Be my potential memory lapses as they may: it was made abundantly clear to me that neither my mother nor her father actually enjoy the dish they requested. They mocked it mercilessly. It seems that their “Please Bring” request is part of some sort of perennial game, the purpose of which escapes me.

May be that I am supposed to join them in laughing at my grandmother for preparing jellied vegetables. I’d be more inclined to laugh at the nincompoops who request a dish they don’t enjoy eating – but I don’t find that funny, just perplexing.

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I had been in the US for a couple of days when it struck me: everything tasted sweet. But everything.  Salad dressing, bread, cereal, milk, hamburgers, beer. Sweet.  A good old english muffin.  Sweet.  I was playing with a sachet of salt and above my thumb I saw the word ‘Ingredients’. That’s going a bit far, I thought, labelling salt with ingredients.  Surely there’s no more than salt in salt.  Moved my thumb: Wrong.  Apparently this salt also contained dextrose.  In case you needed a little sugar with your salt.

This has made me a little obsessive about reading the ingredients label on things.  Not strictly true, I was probably already obsessive about ingredients.  Now I’m just more curious about sugar.  How much sugar is in packaged food we eat here in Australia?   Answer: A lot more than there should be.

What part of the mayonnaise recipe calls for sugar?  No part.  And yet Praise 97% Fat Free Mayonnaise is 20% sugar. Why?  Eat the damn fat, people!  It’s probably vegetable oil and way better for you than the sugar.  Or just don’t eat mayo.

If you put a table-spoon sized dollop of Masterfood seafood sauce on your plate to have with your Christmas prawns, you may as well grab yourself a teaspoon and sprinkle your prawns with some tasty demerara sugar.

Tomato sauce. Sugar.  Peanut Butter. Sugar. I’m not talking about the natural sugar that foods contain intrinsically, I’m talking about sugar that is deliberately added by food manufacturers so that we will find their product more tasty and appealing.  The sugar that is listed in the ingredients list: the closer to the start of the list, the higher the proportion of sugar in the product.

Well, stupid food manufacturers, I don’t like it.  I don’t like your sweet sugary savoury things, and I don’t like that artificial sweet chemical crap stuff you put in things instead of sugar either.  I am going to live on vegemite and vinegar, you see if I don’t.

The end.

PS: I make my own mayonnaise if I want mayonnaise, and I dress my potato salad with olive oil and an acid – lemon juice or a vinegar of some sort.  And I’m secretly worried that Kraft will start putting sugar in vegemite.  Hell, they put cheese in it, who knows what else they are capable of!

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