Sep. 28th, 2010

Spices

Sep. 28th, 2010 03:33 pm
wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (ykk)
Can someone tell me why the jaggery powder at the nearest Indian market has fat/saturated fat in it? o_O I was in there for cumin and I thought I'd take a look at it (I'm thinking about switching to something like muscovado for my coffee and tea, since it has vitamins and minerals that even turbinado sugar doesn't). It didn't list any ingredients other than dried cane sugar, but as I've noticed on the labels of Japanese items, the translated labels are completely wrong as often as not.

(This is true even on things that would be to their advantage to list, like fiber, protein, and vitamins--I'm guessing there are high fees or laborious processes involved in getting those things officially re-tested by the FDA or something. :/ I don't know whether the manufacturers realize how obsessively certain Americans read food labels, particularly foodie and health nut types who shop at Asian markets; they're probably depressing their sales quite a bit this way. Enough to offset the fees that I imagine exist? I have no idea...)

I need to get more glass or metal jars. If there are some out there that come with little spoons attached, that would be ideal...I paid $1.29 for 100g of cumin, but I could have gotten 200g for $2.29 or 400g for $3.99. The price difference on the cardamom compared to Safeway is really striking, even considering that I am not cool enough to deal with the pods (yet). Anyway, we use a lot of cumin around here, so it'd be good to be able to keep more of it around.

I'm reading Monsoon Diary: A Memoir with Recipes, by Shoba Narayan, and it's both interesting (a firmly placed view of a specific part of India [outside Madras], a specific class, being a girl and a woman, etc.) and appetizing. I like Indian vegetarian food, but as with many topics, I often learn better from a narrative than from reading a list ("South Indian food often features flavors x, y, and z, but does not include a, b, and c more commonly found in the north.") It's much better to have an image of young Shoba's dad drinking coffee (not tea) or her orthodox Brahmin aunt making a fuss about an eggless cake made in a pan that had previously had a cake with eggs in it. I know memoirs are personal memories, and those are always up for debate (C.'s international students from the same used to argue about whether certain dishes were authentic, what certain symbols meant, and so on, and I've gotten in similar arguments about slang and food.) So when I was younger, I used to acquire history by sort of triangulating among the best-researched historical fiction, rather than basing what I took in on any one book.

EDIT: Narayan's book goes places many food memoirs don't--college, grad school (not culinary school), etc. I'm still reading it and it keeps changing. :)

Anyway, I recommend it, and it's one of the rare food memoirs that will be good for vegetarians. The recipes will make anyone hungry, though, so don't read it on an empty stomach!

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wintersweet: Main character from Yokohama Shopping Project: Just being alive means you've made a clear profit. ☆ 人生、生きちょるだけで丸儲け. (Default)
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