Thursday, November 10, 2005

Casa Luna Cooking Class - II

Then, until about noon, de Neefe talked about the ingredients which were arrayed before us. Candle nut is a natural laxative, and not to be gathered up at a roadside stall and chomped on during a long journey as if macadamias, as one tourist apparently did. Turmeric is the base of betadine, and is a powerful topical antiseptic. Tamarind is sometimes called "the date of the east", pandanus leaf "the vanilla of the east", and sea salt is different from table salt: the former has 74 minerals and table salt 2.

I was familiar with many of these ingredients already, living near a Vietnamese enclave of Melbourne, and having travelled before in Asia, but it was all new to some of the students. I would have preferred more cooking and less talking, but I learnt stuff too. In particular, I was reminded of the very great difficulty in replicating dishes in foreign lands. The kaffir limes are half the size of golf balls, the lemongrass smaller, the nutmeg much softer and more moist than in Australia, as was the palm sugar. As de Neefe observed, everything smelt and tasted different; everything smelt more aromatic and in particular, more like eucalyptus.


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