Archive for June, 2008

I’ve decided to move the Food Quiz from its own page to a regular post below:

I love food and regardless of whether I have studied it extensively or not, there is no way that I have an encyclopaedia of knowledge…therefore, I have set up this page so that I can be enlightened by people who know more than me about a particular food ingredient or process or anything else that puzzles me.

Food Quiz #1:

I saw this in an Asian grocery store recently and it said that it was packed in Thailand.

Can anyone tell me what you do with pickled Turmeric?

My friend Lia Youngs sent me an email:

I saw your quiz on pickled turmeric, and while I have never had any myself, I think I can give you some background. A few weeks ago, a friend and I took a cooking class at the Davis Food Coop on Ayurvedic Cooking. Afterwards, I was inspired to check out some books from the library, and it just so happens one of them has a recipe for pickled turmeric. Here is an except from “Ayurvedic Cooking for Self-Healing”

All pickles and chutneys will add color, sparkle and taste to a meal. But their main role in the Ayurvedic cuisine is to stimulate agnie, raise the digestive fire and help with the digestive process. Like raitas, pickles and chutneys are eaten in small quantities.

There is also an index in the back of the book, which lists all the medicinal properties of turmeric:

Turmeric is the best medicine in Ayurveda. It cures the whole person…Turmeric helps digestion, maintains the flora of the intestine, reduces gas, has tonic properties and is an antibiotic. Turmeric can be used for a cough, a sty, diabetes, hemorrhoids, cuts, wounds, burns, and shin problems. It helps reduce anxiety and stress.

And here are just a couple of interesting applications:

  • For external hemorrhoids, apply a mixture of ½ teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of ghee locally at bedtime.
  • For general protection from disease, carry turmeric root in your pocket or tie it on a yellow silk thread around your neck

Food Quiz #2

I was in a local Asian grocery store recently and saw this amazing jar of teeny tiny fish all lined up in a jar. It is from the Philippines and I am curious what the fish is used for and even more of a question is, how in the world do the manufacturers get the fish to all line up so perfectly?! They must employ people with little hands that can reach inside the mouth of the jar and align the fish perfectly by using chopsticks or something! Just kidding, but really, anyone have any ideas?


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I love being in Sydney’s Chinatown area because it is almost like being in Asia – after all, Australia is part of Australasia. I get to fulfill all my Asian cravings whenever I visit and this time, I discovered a bakery that specialises in Asian-style cakes. It is on George St. right in the thick of the action and according to other Aussie food bloggers, it’s been open since 2006 (how did I miss it?!)

Anyway, as much as I wanted to try more as many flavours as possible, I could only eat two cakes to take away with me and I chose the two that intrigued me the most – Calpis Cookie Cake and Mango Mochi Cake. For those of you who do not know what Calpis is, it is a tasty, sweet and milky/yoghurty drink that you dilute with water (like a cordial) or that is pre-diluted with water or soda. It has been a childhood staple in Japan since the early 20th century. What’s funny is that in the U.S. market, it is called Calpico probably because Calpis sounds too much like…yup, you guested it, COW PISS!! And no one wants to be caught dead drinking cow piss…and I digress.

All the cakes in the display were gorgeous and reminded me of Japanese-style bakeries – visually exciting. As for the taste of the cakes, I was just a little bit disappointed. The Calpis Cookie Cake didn’t taste like Calpis at all but tasted more like a non-descript mousse of some kind. The Mango Mochi cake was decent – tasted like the Mochi Ice Cream we have in the states and was filled with a lightly flavoured dense mango mousse. The outer mochi “skin” was very soft and tasty but overall, I thought it was just ok. You can read a blog that I found that raves about this shop and definitely took much better photos than I did:

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I mentioned in the last post about how I forgot that very big cities have interesting and colourful people right? (You’d think I grew up in the country or something but I didn’t…just living in a smaller city makes you forget these city things). Here are just a few people that I found worth my while to photograph:

Sydney busker doing an impressive balancing act on his forehead!

It was too rude to take a photograph of her from the frontal view but it’s amazing, she had on purple everything!! Including her hair clip, her earrings, her eyeshadow and her lipstick and as you can see, all her clothing! It doesn’t look at unusual or interesting in the photo…I guess you had to be there to understand.

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Sydney Layover

Practically every time I want to leave Australia to go back to the US, I have to stopover in Sydney for a few hours. Sometimes I schedule my flights so that I have a whole day to hang out in Sydney before I board my (usually) evening flight home. This time, I decided not to spend the extra $$ and leave my small carry-on at airport luggage storage and lugged it around the city – bad idea. Living in Adelaide makes me forget what living in a really big city is like and I forgot that there are tons of people and lots of crazy freaky people as well. Dodging traffic and people while rolling my carry-on proved too exhausting so my jaunt lasted only a few hours. In the few hours, I was able to eat at my favorite Japanese hole-in-the-wall restaurant that I ALWAYS manage to eat at (at least once) whenever I go to Sydney.

KURA, Shop 3, 76 Ultimo Rd

Haymarket NSW 2000

Phone (02) 9212 5661

Located in Chinatown (Haymarket area) across from the famous (and tacky tourist trap) Paddy’s Market is a cash only, tiny (about 14 seat capacity) joint that often has a long queue at lunchtime. If people are waiting, you go inside to get a number and wait for your number to be called before going in. On this occasion, because I was alone, I was seated with another single young man in his early 20s eating his lunch. Normally it’s not a big deal to me being seated with a complete stranger but this table was so small that I was less than two feet from him! If I leaned over even slightly, I would be able to kiss his forehead! Needless to say, I didn’t complain but we were both rather uneasy with the intimate space we were sharing in complete silence. We didn’t even glance at each other nor did we make eye contact (he was listening to his iPod). The food is so good that I was willing to put up with this type of discomfort (and that’s saying a lot)! It isn’t gourmet but it is good quality, home-cooking at fantastic prices! Everything is good here but I especially come here to get either the chirashi or sushi combination with only costs about $10. They have daily lunch specials that come with miso soup and the takoyaki here is authentic and tasty.  This time I couldn’t help but get the six-piece aburi (lightly grilled on top but kept raw underneath) salmon sushi and mini udon special even though I knew I’d get fed soon on the plane. Yummy! This place is pretty authentic and is a great place for good Japanese food for a great price. Just remember that just like in busy restaurants in Japan, they want you to pay for your meal right after you order it so don’t be surprised by their polite request for you to do so!

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I just got a news headline from Decanter.com that surprised me: “Student at Le Cordon Bleu threatens suicide” and then saw it also on the Mail online as well. What?! They reported that a 28 yr. old French-Algerian man who spent his entire savings on the course, had failed an exam and demanded to retake it. When he was refused, he grabbed one of his school knives and threatened to kill himself. Police in full riot gear were called and they closed off the tiny lane to the school and eventually Tasered and knocked him down and arrested him. What a chaotic scene that must have been in such a tiny building!

Why am I writing about it on my blog? Because I have emotional connections with that school. I am an alumni of the London school and I have very fond memories of my time there. I am wondering whether this type of publicity is negative or positive for Le Cordon Bleu. It is already one of the oldest and most recognized cooking schools in the world but does refusing to allow a student to retake the exam make le Cordon Bleu too strict or does it make the school appear to be elite? Hmm…

I do feel sorry for the student because he has poured all of his money into the courses (it is very expensive there). What puzzles me mostly is HOW and WHY did this student fail his Intermediate Cuisine exam? If he passed Basic Cuisine, he surely would have had enough experience by now not to fail any subsequent exams – unless he burnt or dropped his dish. I don’t know how it is at present but we were given THREE hours to prepare and present a dish for our exams and that should be enough time for him. What I’m trying to say is, it is actually hard to fail an exam!

What is the real story here? I wonder what really happened to cause this man to get so enraged and to threaten to kill himself? Bizarre…

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