Monday, June 24, 2013

For The Pleasure of Life :: Cereal Volume 3

What a pleasurable read- Cereal Volume 3 - in pursuit of food and travel. Okay, not cheating. I love these magazines and faithfully plough through them whenever they arrive. I could probably gush about Foreign Policy too, but I guess nobody really cares about it.

Between the interlude of fashion and the letterpress, the travel sections took us to Santa Barbara, Iceland's Reykjavík, UK's North Antrim and Derry/Londonderry. Love that section on edible flowers and insects. If you aren't a fan of insects, skip the middle part of the magazine. Mowie Kay's photos in 'Deconstructed- A Photo Essay: From Plate to Plant' were beautiful. Was a tad interested in Linda Thompson's article 'A Passion for the Rose'.

So, a thousand years on, the rose retains its appeal in the kitchen. We've found even more uses, ranging from pickled rose petals, fragrant teas and tisanes, to heavenly perfumed chocolate, nougat, marshmallow, and patisserie. Who can resist a featherlight macaron tasting of Rosa ispahan? Is there anything more decadent than a spoonful of rose petal jam?

Never fond of the rose, I don't even like its scent in anything. The rose's floral muskiness is very off-putting to me. Scents are subjective anyway. You know that supposed amazing smells of baking and butter and whatnot? To me, those smells are as bad as durians. It makes me hurl stomach contents immediately. Which was probably why as a kid, I was tasked to fan the charcoal in front of the stove for savories and relieved of chores when the kitchen turned to baking breads and sweets in the afternoons. Till this day, I'm really not a fan of bakes or dessert.  

In 'Entomophagy', Jonathan Gregson's carefully positioned insects came up in stunning details in each photo. Richard Aslan wrote "So whether we like it or not - whether we know it or not, entomophagy is here to stay." GULP. Okay. A plentiful source of protein. Perhaps I shall view insects as lentils or dried fruit in my salads. In 'Insect Gastronomy', Line Klein's photos adopted an almost delicious angle, and Josh Evans' words tried to persuade us that it's all about "exploring taste, scent and texture". Okay, perhaps I'll also be brave enough to finally try Ento in London.    

I thought the insect sauces would be comparable to those made from fish or meat; but they are entirely unto themselves. To me, the grasshopper/wax moth has the faint aroma of oyster sauce, a distinct nuttiness, and an underlying whiff of roasted fermented cacao. This is a technique we can try on all sorts of protein-rich ingredients - and with diverse, delicious results. It may take a few trials, but many ingredients just need a bit of experimenting before their delicious potential shows through.

Texture may play a second string to flavour for what many people value most in delicious foods, but its importance becomes very apparent when we try making insects appealing to the Western palate. For many people, the hardest part of eating an insect is not taste or flavour, but rather the texture, along with the psychological factor of consuming the insect whole in its immediate, unabstracted form.

Hello, make that for the Eastern palate too. Eating insects isn't really part of Asian culture, regardless of what you see at the street markets and snakes rotting in bottles of herbal tonic. At least in this day and age, we give those a wide berth. And there's the whole debate about cordyceps and insect hosts.


Yuling said...

Mowie Kay! One of my favourite stylists! Cereal is really awesome - clean with great prose. Thanks for sharing it with me. :)

imp said...

Y: great pics and styling in this issue. let me know if you want issue with ahhh...giant insects. pass it over to you when we next meet.

Corsage@A Dollop Of Me said...

You make me want to get my hands on this publication! There's always so much to linger on when there's beautiful writing and photography. And I always find myself learning when I read good stuff like that!

imp said...

corsage: i'll pass it around for sure. :)

Yuling said...

Want!!! :) The cover is taken by a photographer I follow on Instagram. Lots of talented people on Cereal!!