Living in a youth obsessed culture makes it difficult not to be influenced by all the subliminal and some not so subliminal messages that bombard our surroundings. I have been told many times that I don’t look my age and my ego always swells a little when I hear this. I think next time someone says I look younger I will say, “Oh, I wish I looked older.” Then there will be awkward silence………..yes just like this. On second thought, my strict proper Asian upbringing won’t permit me to be ungracious, so I will just have to say, “Good genes”.
I would like to change how I view people who may be considered old. Even just typing the word “old” is not comfortable for me right now. We have come up with ways to avoid using that word, “more experienced”, “golden years”,”senior years, “women of a certain age” (or does this mean women in their middle years). Working in a retail health food store gives me lots of opportunity to have fantastic conversations with all sorts of people and I especially delight in my exchanges with the older customers. Hearing about their life experiences, sharing their knowledge, is so very enriching to me. “Old people know stuff!”
I probably had my first taste of Mexican food when I was a child and our family took a road trip to Mexico. Although we were barely past the Mexican border on that visit, it was still exotic. It was like going back in time to a land out of the dark ages, or so it seemed to me as a 9 year old. Dirt roads were the norm, mangy dogs roaming around aimlessly rooting for food. Old, rusty cars were sprinkled about like confetti. My Dad revelled in it! He tends to gravitate towards places that are more gritty and edgy. We must have stopped for lunch, although I have no recollection of what we would have eaten but it was probably some sort of taco. Any memory of what we ate was overshadowed by the colourful landscape and locals that we saw.
I once knew a couple who were very much in love. They dated for 5 years and didn’t have much money, so he proposed to her with a 1-carrot diamond ring! No, that is not a typo, he found the biggest carrot and carved it into a ring. To her, that ring was more meaningful than a real diamond ring and she proudly wore it until it wasn’t fresh anymore. As demonstrated, you can do more with carrots than just eat them.
What do aliens eat? Do they have the same food groups as earthlings? Do they care about eating local, organic and fair trade? What do their fruits and vegetables taste like, look like? Do they even eat? Or, have they done away with eating, which would be sad. I am fantasizing about alien cuisine because I’ve got food fatigue. That is what I am experiencing more and more these days. You must have those days too where you just can’t stomach another boring bowl of oatmeal, spring mix salad, or chicken breast. I want to travel with my tongue.
And so it was with gratitude that I came across 2014’s top ingredients of the year. And I find myself behind the food trend because it is now 2015 and there are foods from last year’s list that I have never heard of, ie. shishitos, leaf lard (I didn’t know leaves have fat) and gribenes to name a few. But I am happy to say there are many ingredients that are staples in my pantry.
The number one ingredient of last year is the spice mixture, zaatar, I remember reading about it a few years ago when it first burst onto the culinary scene, but have never tried it. Until now, it is a new year and new food, well, at least for me. So I went on the hunt for zaatar, and found it at a Mediterranean market. What exactly is zaatar? It is a mixture of herbs – thyme, oregano, marjoram – sumac and sesame seeds. You may be familiar with the first three ingredients, but sumac? What the heck is that? When I had gone to Turkey in the past, I brought some sumac back and didn’t really know what to do with it. But it is a berry that is dried and then ground into a powder. It has a tangy citrusy flavor.