I’ve been kinda resisting cooking with Chinese Medicine herbs, mainly because it seemed a bit too Chinese-y (said the girl studying Chinese Medicine). My main experience being congees (excellent in small doses) and broths with unidentifiable floaty things in them. But I took the plunge nonetheless and came up with two impressive dishes that passed the skeptical boyfriend test.
Archives For Longevity
I was drawn to this dish because of it’s simplicity, the nutritional profile and blood building properties of lamb. See, us females have a tendency to deficiency of blood – and I’m no different. We burn up our blood stores though stress, work, high emotions, physical blood loss, and me, well study depletes me the most. Being blood deficient can cascade to many other ailments – I will tend to anxiety and insomnia if I allow my blood (physical and energetic) to wane. You might get terribly lethargic, have dry skin, hair, nails, get tired eyes and/or floaters, be highly emotional, unable to cope in general, be pale, listless, have menstrual problems or can’t fall pregnant, physical and emotional rigidity, sweat profusely at night, just to name a few.
It’s not often we see these little nuggets pop up in healthy recipes. And when they do, well most of the time it’s pretty un-inspiring if you ask me, possibly a lay-over from sour-cream doused 80s style recipes which is my recollection, along with leathery, tough, tasteless. It was the one thing my mum probably didn’t nail (she is a pretty darn good cook otherwise). Then, I was introduced to double peeled broadies. See, mum missed this vital step in making broad beans go from “ugh” to “freakin’ amazing!”.
Being a breakfast worshiper, the importance of eating time has been an influencing reason to my love of the first meal. It’s no new concept, the Chinese knew that eating too late – related to the horary cycle, circadian rhythms, and being too close to bed time – will slow down digestion. Actually, we have a saying:
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a merchant, and dinner like a pauper.
What happens when digestion is slowed down? We put on weight. It’s kinda repetitive for me to say this, but I’ll say it again for impact: when the digestion is slowed down, we can’t process our food. When we can’t process our food in the manner of extracting nutrients and expelling waste, all that we eat gets pushed out into our system as a toxic, dirty, repugnant waste to get stored between our fat cells…making us fatter.
There was a point in time where I felt deeply disempowered about my health. It was a time I was broken, physically, emotionally, mentally. It’s gravely concerning when you think about it, that we are not taught how to live our lives in a manner that keeps us well, outside of murky, generic and often contradicting information. If we want to help ourselves, then it’s left to just that – ourselves. That’s probably what’s brought you here, now.
Concerned with prevention rather than cure, Chinese Medicine is based off an entirely different model to evidence-based Western Medicine. Medicine as we know it here in the West has it’s limitations. It’s amazing at diagnosing and treating what is already broken, at which point – the tumour, high cholesterol, diabetes, autoimmune disease – is already a long way down the path of ill health. See, no one spontaneously gets diabetes. There is years of warning signs beforehand and we’re just not taught to look for them or know what to do about it. Enter, Traditional Chinese Medicine.
I have to start off by apologising. I certainly don’t post enough gluten free here. I was gluten intolerant for a bit – which was harrowing – then I fixed things up by cleaning up my diet and stress levels and loading up on pro-biotics and been fine ever since. I was lucky, I got onto it early.
Despite how much I could eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I like to ease the load on my digestive system. When I heard about them, I couldn’t help but to try them myself. I really do love beans.
Sardina. Located off the west coast of Italy and second largest island in the great salty pond known as the Mediterranean, to Sicily. Known for it’s long living folk who feast off simple meals with bountiful fresh produce grown locally.
Sounds like a great way to start the morning.
This breakfast was made for me recently and adapted from A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir. I have to say the Turkish can reclaim their baked eggs and the whoever’s, their eggs benedict*. Me? I’m all Sardinian (even though I’m a bastard breed of Northern Italian and whatever goes into making up Australian).
Ahem, anyways onto the recipe. Quite easy. All you need is pane carasau / pane di musica…not that economical, quick to make or easy to find, so I substituted with split and toasted wholemeal pitas – I used the mini kind – or you can try Lavosh. Layer 4 pieces per serve with a good quality passata, which I used my own by first soaking tomatoes in boiling water (about 1 minute) then peeling and seeding. Roughly chop the flesh and simmer for 20 – 40 mins with a pinch of salt and a bay leaf. More economical if doing in large batches and buying end-of-season, not-quite-perfect tomatoes. Also add shaved parmesan and fresh basil in the layers. If you’re like me and don’t have fresh basil on hand, but have salvaged bunches of basil before it goes off and minced in a food processor and drowned in olive oil and pinch of salt to be stored in the refrigerator, you’re going to be in luck.
Ideally you want to top with a couple of poached eggs since this particular morning I couldn’t poach an egg if my life depended on it. I took the picture above sans poached eggs (but still ate the little rascals anyway).
What makes this simple breakfast so delectable, I reckon is the slathering of tomatoes that are rich in umami…that I-can’t-get-enough-of-it savoury yumminess. I also happens to be filling and uncomplicated. Kinda like how I prefer my men.
*Wikipedia doesn’t know the originator of eggs benedict, therefore subsequently, neither do I.
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart” – Cesar Chavez
I read this quote, and I thought you all would enjoy it too. For me, it sums up the significance of food beyond a functional purpose. More so when I think of the times I’ve bonded with colleagues (from an unrelated industry) over food who have brought me in stuff they’ve cooked or grown. They’ve given me the greatest gift: their passion, sustenance and a deeper connection.
All cultures have a strong tie with food and socialising and I believe this is part of the health jigsaw. With the remodelling of the family nucleus, what is gaining traction in our ‘busy syndrome’ society are cook-togethers; social gatherings of friends and strangers who cook and then later dine together. It’s a new kind of family dinner with as-obsessed-about-food types.
I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a look into the world of cook-togethers. It took a life of it’s own when I started poking around on the net. After a search (and signing up to a meet up or two along the way) here’s a list to get you started – or at least a heads up – of the cook-togethers getting around:
- Cook here and now
- Eat With Me
- Eat With – Like Airbnb but for food sharing. In beta phase and currently only in Spain and Israel
- MeetUp.com – search database for relevant groups
- Papa Serra – Heading to Barcelona? Join Joel for a culinary adventure and cook up you wont forget!
Relevant and Interesting Articles:
- Meet and Eat: Cooking Together
- Food Sharing with Strangers, newest trend in at-home dining
- The Comfort of Cooking with Strangers
I then found this research on the importance of food on social lubrication (they use the world facilitation, but I like this word better).
Love to hear of your experiences or other cook-togethers you know of from around the world. xx
We hear a lot about super food this and that, and it has occurred to me more than once, where does that leave regular food stuffs? I reckon it’s all a bit of marketing hype. Here’s why: all (non processed) foods have their valuable health-promoting qualities. And in ways you wouldn’t imagine!
Yesterday I ate bone marrow. The idea of it makes me squirm. It’s a strange creamy jelliness and sweet meat flavour doesn’t paint an appetizing picture. But it was tasty. It’s luxurious richness is like a poor man’s foie gras that has been reborn on modern menus.
Back in the day, our ancestors ate offal and sucked the marrow out of bones as a way of being, as a way of maintaining health and vitality. Did they know it was a potent source of Omega-3’s, Vitamin B12, RNA and DNA? Did they know that they were promoting renewal, longevity and protecting against premature ageing? Without science, my guess is they experienced the benefits for themselves. Now we have the Paleo movement affirming it.
In TCM we call marrow a Jing nourishing food. Jing being our essence, our vitality, the founding energy that kick starts and fuels all other metabolic processes. The spark plug and petrol of our internal mechanics. Everyone needs to supplement their Jing, we are constantly depleting it through simply living. If we can slow this down, supplement with certain foods, we make light of the ageing process.
Here I was enjoying soft taco with wood roasted bone marrow, chimichurri and ranchero style brisket from the Newmarket Hotel (newmarketstkilda.com.au).