Tag Archives: vernacular creativity

You Never Have the Ingredients You Need

15 Sep

I was cooking an Indian vegetable dish last night, and the recipe called for peas, tomatoes, whole milk cheese, and an array of spices. I made the decision, perhaps unwise, to not shop for the ingredients, I knew I had peas at home, and just use whatever I could find in my kitchen.

Once I had cut everything and began to cook I realized that there was no ginger in my fridge, an essential part of the spices. Instead I found a can of ready-made curry sauce, which contained ginger, and decided to add that over the top at the end. The next problem arose when I realized there also wasn’t any whole milk cheese available, so I decided to use tofu instead, because it has almost the same consistency. Soon after, the next hurdle arose because I remembered that tomatoes release water when cooked, and while this would be fine if I cooked according to the recipe, I wasn’t. I was adding curry sauce at the end, and the water from the tomatoes would make the dish too watery.

Finally after the peas had cooked and I had added the sauce, there still just wasn’t something right. The dish wasn’t as rich and creamy as it was supposed to be. I had no cream to add, so I added a little milk instead and let it cook on low heat for a while. All in all, the dish turned out to be a success and my improvisation had worked.

Funky Modified Meatloaf

7 Sep

One of my favorite and coincidentally strangest meals is a sort of modified meatloaf. This dish was created and first made by my father, with the help of his favorite son, me! Many of the ingredients are the same as you’d find in any other meatloaf, such as ground beef, salt, and pepper. The first place where this recipe varies, however, is with the ketchup. Instead of using typical American ketchup, we use sweeter, richer Chinese ketchup, and we also mix this with Hoisin. In addition to the ketchup itself being richer and more flavorful than normal ketchup, the sweetness from the Hoisin sauce adds a completely new element to the meal.

In addition to these strange modifications, the typical use of breadcrumbs is replaced by extremely tasty buttermilk fried onion rings. Not only is the onion flavor absorbed into the dish, but the batter itself makes for a much “fluffier” meatloaf. Finally, the absolute craziest modification is… wait for it… Quaker Chewy bars—in particular, the S’mores flavor! We get a huge bowl with the whole meatloaf concoction, and then mix in about seven of the candy bars and knead them into the mixture.

As per the ingredients, this is where the oddities stop. However, the shape is also quite unconventional. Instead of the traditional shape of a loaf of bread, it is now rolled into something reminiscent of a snake. We find that it is much easier to cut and divide, as well as much quicker to cook this way. Overall, just a few quick modifications to the recipe as well as the technique completely change the dish, to create a more efficient, tastier, and more customized dish.

Readings for Thursday, August 26

24 Aug

This Thursday, we will speak of a tension between two ways of seeing Japanese food:

–the prevailing tone of doom or crisis we hear from policy-makers in Japan and eco-critics who point to large-scale changes in the food supply, including the coming demise of bluefin tuna;

–in contrast, the celebratory tone of foodies, entrepreneurs, urban gardeners, and other people who revel in the variety, quality, and scope of foods available, in Japan and in LA.

We will speak of some provisional ways of making connections between these two scales–the macro and the micro. Key terms, and the articles that discuss them are:

CRISIS: Yukie Yoshikawa, “Can Japanese Agriculture Overcome Dependence and Decline?” The Asia-Pacific Journal, 26-3-10, June 28, 201.

MAFF video, “Ensuring the Future of Food.”

–VERNACULAR CREATIVITY: potts_gnomes: Tracey Potts, “Creative Destruction and Critical Creativity: Recent Episodes in the Social Life of Gnomes,” in Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy, eds. Tim Edensor et al. (London: Routledge, 2010), 154-169

–HETEROTOPIAS-foucault_heterotopias: Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces.” Diacritics 16, no. 1 (1986): 22-27.

OPTIONAL: POSSIBILITY SPACE: bromberg_creativity unbound: Ava Bromberg, “Creativity Unbound: Cultivating the Generative Power of Non-Economic Neighbourhood Spaces,” in Spaces of Vernacular Creativity: Rethinking the Cultural Economy, ed. Tim Edensor et al. (London: Routledge, 2010), 214-225. Note: the biblio is quite long…it is the biblio for the entire book, not just this essay.