Monday, August 04, 2008

on cooking with love

Life with the Significant Eater is relatively harmonious. There are only two reoccurring issues of contention. One involves what city we ultimately live in (we both love living in Melbourne, its just a bit more complicated than that) and the other is about cooking meat.

Though I am not a rabid member of PETA or a radical vegan, I just don’t like the smell of meat cooking. In fact, lamb now makes me feel as nauseas as the awful aroma of offal did as a child. We’d planned to get a barbecue to overcome part of the issue but a new one is not in our budget right now (hint: anyone got a decent one with a wok burner that they’d like to get rid of?). The house is tiny, the kitchen and the living room is one functional space. Sadly the double extractor fan over the stove has not lived up to the promises of the manufacturer and the smell of a stir fry or using the cast iron grill can last for days.

While he cooked himself a steak while I was away last, which is ok with me, I’m told it did stink the entire house out. He hasn’t raised the issue since. However with his lingering lurgy he made a plaintive plea for chicken soup to help his never ending cold.

On market day last week I began a labour of love. From the Chicken Pantry I got two chunks of chook still on the bone. All their fowl is raised the old fashioned way with no additives; I figure conventional chicken can’t be used for medicine. At home realising the function of the skinny curved knife that sits in the block is designed for boning I managed to easily fillet the flesh. The cats got the skin and a few trimmings and that made them very happy.

Into the pot went the meaty chicken bones, some celery, coriander roots and a knob of ginger. It simmered away happily for an hour or two, til I went out (to eat a delicious lunch at Cookie). Later it would be drained and any fat scooped off the top.

Home again and feeling rather merry, I assembled the soup, a chicken version of healing soup. It featured carrots, Chinese mushrooms (shitake and oyster), spring onion, chilli, garlic, coriander, ginger, a splash of fish sauce and I am sure, many other things. My memory is a little blurry. There was chicken of course, cut into generous slices. But the main ingredients were love and care. Really I know that sounds soppy but for me the ultimate act of devotion is to make something absolutely scrumptious for someone else that I cannot eat!

He ate two large bowls and seemed very happy.

He’s still got a cold though.

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Blogger stickyfingers said...

That is indeed love.

On the herbal side of things although the Jews refer to Chicken Soup as penecillin, the Chinese traditionally avoid chicken dishes and soups when you have the sniffles, as it is regarded as cooling the chi. You supposedly need to heat up chi to chase away upper respiratory infections.

Pork on the other hand warms the chi, so chicken & pork soup would get the thumbs up, along with certain herbs. I recall whenever I had a cold, my Chinese Grandfather would arrive at my flat in Hong Kong with a can of ham, a can of oats and some sweet white bread for my lurgy. I was told to cook the oats with pork stock not milk and eat the ham with it.

My Chinese doctor has a great herbal cold cure too, but it stinks the house out more than any meat could when you simmer it - quite revolting - LOL! Hope The SE gets better soon.

1:02 pm  
Blogger Johanna said...

true love indeed! the longer I have been vegetarian, the harder it gets to even think about how to cook meat partly because I just don't have a clue any more - but the smell I can't stand in our house is fish! But that is one advantage of a partner who couldn't be bothered cooking!

1:39 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Sticky - the energetics of food is something I find fascinating. I figured that the warming spices would balance any cooling aspects of the chicken.

Johanna - yes but a partner who cooks as well has its up sides too.

3:17 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

You know, I haven't had a cold in a long, long time. Reckon it's because I now work from home. When worked full-time I was always coming down with the unshakable, nasty kind.

Actually, the smell doesn't bother me so much, nor does the chopping and slicing, it's the taste that I can't stand anymore. Especially chicken. Though a soup, made with great care and plenty of love, a medicinal one, would be welcomed any day.

4:01 pm  

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