Sunday, April 19, 2015

A New Spice

"Darling, you smell of Worcestershire sauce!"

Garbage research is adding spice to my life.

Yesterday at Trader J's, I was just about to put some prepared Indian food in my cart when my brain began to flash 
Red Alert: Foil Packets Last Until the End of Time
and I couldn't do it.

This is a good thing, really--I love Indian food, and it's cheap and easy to make. The spices do all the work: just choose three and add them to lentils and veg, and you've pretty much made something good to eat.

Today I'll go to the co-op and buy in bulk Indian spices I've let run out, or dry up--cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, garam masala, ginger, mustard seed, turmeric.

For fun, I'm going to buy asafoetida, finally, too––a spice I've never used but know from a line in a poem by Catullus (7) in which he says he wants as many kisses from his lover as the Libyan sands

that lay at asafoetida-bearing Cyrene ...

This drove me crazy, trying to translate it when I was studying Latin [quam magnus numerus Libyssae harenae lasarpiciferis iacet Cyrenis].
(For a while after I got my B.A. (in Religions in Antiquity, minor in Latin) (at 35!), I wrote like that too. My English was all twisted up, as if it were translated from Latin, badly. It took writing nonfiction for kids for a couple years for me to straighten it out again.)

Anyway, looking "asafoetida" up, I see it tastes something like leeks and is rumored to give Worcestershire sauce its distinctive aroma. 
Oh dear, its name looks like it'd smell like ass-feet... looked it up and--close--it means "fetid resin"--also nicknamed devil's dung

I like leeks.

* * * Krista comments (hi! Krista) that Mr. Husband recommends Majula's Kitchen for Indian recipes.

Here's also Indian Vegan Recipes--of course, you don't have to remove anything from a lot of Indian recipes to make them vegan.
Though sometimes I add butter so they're not...

The blogger provides an Indian Grocery Shopping List. Asafoetida is optional. The nice thing about buying spices in bulk is, you  can just buy a little.
Painting: "Nudes", Paul Delvaux, 1946


Michael Leddy said...

I love Worcestershire sauce. As a kid, I was fascinated by the Lea and Perrins label and the words “from the recipe of a nobleman in the county.” I think asafoetida might be rumor though. The vague “natural flavorings” is meant to preserve the mystery, I suppose.

Zhoen said...

I freeze my spices, keeps 'em going longer. But fresh ginger is always ideal.

What's the deal with foil packets? I haven't heard.

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: Thanks for pointing out the Wsause rumor---lots of places say it as a fact, but it is not confirmed--I changed my post to reflect that.
Seems it for sure is made from fermented anchovies though---are they related to... sardines?

ZHOEN: Good idea, to freeze spices. Alas, I have a half-sized fridge (no room) and the freezer is nonfunctional. I'll just buy small amounts for now.

Foil packets?
Nothing in particular---just more packaging, and nonrecyclable at that.
(Though even supposedly recyclable packaging is more unnecessary junk.)

I looked them up and here's the test to see if its recyclable foil (real metal) or metalicized plastic:

"There are some packaging items such as crisp packets that can look like aluminium foil but are actually made from metallised plastic film. This type of material is not currently recycled and should not be put in your recycling bin.

An easy way to find out if an item is foil or metallised plastic film, is to do the scrunch test. Simply scrunch the item in your hand - if it remains 'scrunched' it is foil and can be recycled; if it springs back it is probably metallised plastic film and not recyclable."

Michael Leddy said...

Yes, anchovies for sure, though there are vegan versions (Annie’s makes one).

I think the only thing anchovies and sardines have in common is that they are sold in cans and some people frown on them. :) I don’t think they’re related.

Krista Kennedy said...

There are many jokes about asafoetida around our house, since J cooks Indian all the time. His favorite site is Manjula, so I thought I'd pass it along to you:

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: Ah, right---I looked them up and anchovies and sardines are both soft-boned fish of the Mediterranean, but sardines are related to herring, not anchovies.

Hi, haven't seen you in ages!
Thanks (to Mr. Husband too) for the link--I hadn't known a good site to recommend, so I added it to the post.

Zhoen said...

Which put me in mind of Aspidistra, and The Biggest Aspidistra in the World...

Which is not at all the same thing, of course.

Krista said...

Hullo! I owe you a big letter!

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Ha-ha! I'd never heard that song before!
You know George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying?

Seems they represent English complacency to him:
"That was what it meant to worship the money-god! To settle down, to Make Good, to sell your soul for a villa and an aspidistra!"

KRISTA: Well, since I seem incapable of even attempting Skype...

Zhoen said...

Also called A Merry War, I think.

Fresca said...

Z: Oh, huh, yeah:
I looked it up and that's the name of the movie based on Keep the Aspidistra Flying--I had no idea.