Who Knows Where the Time Goes

I thought I’d write an update. April was all about the A-Z Challenge, and I’m not sure where May went so …Read More »

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Browned, and So Tender

blackbird

I haven’t come across any memorable descriptions of food in my recent reading so I thought I’d post the Ingalls family’s blackbird supper froom Little Town on the Prairie.

Pa’s corn crop is attacked by blackbirds, but Ma won’t be beaten:

[Ma] opened the oven door, and took out the tin milk pan. It was full of something covered thickly over with delicately browned biscuit crust. She set it before Pa and he looked at it amazed. ‘Chicken pie!’

blackbird2

‘Sing a song of sixpence–‘ said Ma.

Laura went on from there, and so did Carrie and Ma and even Grace.

‘A pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds,

Baked in a pie!

When the pie was opened

The birds began to sing.

Was not that a dainty dish

To set before the king?’

‘Well, I’ll be switched!’ said Pa. He cut into the pie’s crust with a big spoon, and turned over a big chunk of it onto a plate.. The underside was steamed and fluffy. Over it he poured spoonfuls of thin brown gravy, and beside it he laid half a blackbird, browned and so tender that the meat was slipping from the bones. He handed that first plate across the table to Ma.

The scent of that opened pie was making all their mouths water so that they had to swallow again and again while they waited for their portions, and under the table the kitty curved against their legs, her hungry purring running into anxious miaows.

‘The pan held twelve birds,’ said Ma. ‘Just two apiece, but one is all that Grace can possibly eat, so that leaves three for you, Charles.’

‘It takes you think up a chicken pie, a year before there’s chickens to make it with,’ Pa said. He ate a mouthful and said, ‘This beats a chicken pie all hollow.’

They all agreed that blackbird pie was even better than chicken pie. There were, besides, new potatoes and peas, and sliced cucumbers, and young boiled carrots that Ma had thinned from the rows, and creamy cottage cheese. And the day was not even Sunday. As long as the blackbirds lasted, and the garden was green, they could eat like this every day.

Makes me hungry for some blackbird chicken pie!

Say Ahhh …

For a change, something from a graphic novel.

Uncomfortably Happily is comic book artist Yeoh-Sik Hong’s memoir of the two years he and his wife spent living in the countryside.

With pristine forests and clear mountain streams at their doorstep, the pair spend a lot of time outdoors, including having picnics and campfire barbecues. Often they are broke and can’t afford to eat much more than vegetables or even plain rice, but sometimes they treat themselves …

 

These next six pages are near the end of the book and the couple’s pet cats and dog join in the fun. Even if it didn’t happen exactly this way, Hong’s depiction of the couple and their pets bonding over delicious food and drink feels spot on.

Tofu in an Earthenware Pot

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I have been reading Hiromi Kawakami’s fiction and came across the following description of yudofu in the novel Strange Weather in Tokyo. Such a simple dish, but so delicious and comforting. Reading it, I craved some simple tofu, drizzled with soy sauce and fresh onion oil, then sprinkled with finely chopped spring onion and deep fried shallots.

On the third day of the new year, when my brother and his family had
gone out for a round of well-wishing, my mother made me yudofu for lunch.
Yudofu had always been one of my favorite dishes. It’s not the kind of thing
children usually like but, even before I started elementary school, I loved my
mother’s yudofu. In a small cup she mixes saké with soy sauce, sprinkling it
with freshly shaved bonito, and then warms the cup along with the tofu in an
earthenware pot. When it’s hot enough, she opens the lid of the pot and a
thick cloud of steam escapes. She heats the whole block of tofu without
cutting it, so I can then ravage the firm cotton tofu with the tips of my
chopsticks. It’s no good unless you use tofu from the corner tofu shop, and
they always reopen on the third, my mother chatted away as she cheerfully
prepared the yudofu for me.

It’s delicious, I said.

My mother replied with obvious pleasure, You’ve always loved yudofu,
haven’t you?

I can never seem to make it the same way.

That’s because you use different tofu. They don’t sell this kind of tofu over
where you live, Tsukiko, do they?

After that, my mother fell silent. I was quiet too. Without speaking, I
demolished the yudofu, dousing it with the saké soy sauce as I ate.

Apple-and-Condensed-Milk Sandwiches

chunky coverToday’s delicious excerpts are from The Adventures of Chunky by Leila Berg, with illustrations by George Downs.

The book was first published in 1950, but it was a 1965 Oxford Children’s Library hardback edition that my father rescued (from his school library’s garbage heap) and brought home for me. Unfortunately, I lost that copy, but I managed to replace it in the late 90s.

Chunky’s real name is Joseph but he’s called Chunky because he enjoys food, like chocolate and bread and toffee, in chunks rather than neat slices or squares.

Chunky’s parents are scientists. They are always off experimenting on something or other so Chunky gets left to fend for himself quite a bit. However, he has his best friend Mike, the widow Mrs Spriggs and her niece Tangie to keep him company.

More than thirty years after I had first read this book, I still remembered many of Chunky’s adventures, like the time he taught a pig to be a music conductor, and when he found himself being followed by hordes of stray cats. I also remembered that when Chunky’s parents are off on one of their working trips, they always leave Chunky the most yummy-sounding packed lunches, teas and dinners.

Here are three excerpts describing meals from the book:Read More »