Noodles, Please

 I just had Indonesian peanut noodles for lunch. Yum.

Noodles have been around for about 5000 years. As are many other food products, they came into being in China and spread through the trade routes to Europe and India. While the story goes that Marco Polo brought them back to Venice in the 1200’s, some forms of pasta already existed in the southern parts of Italy. The shapes that we know today came into existence in the 1600’s.

Heaven She knows I love my pasta and broccoli, and She also knows that I will choose noodles over rice when possible in Asian recipes. It’s a question of texture and flavor. Noodles provide soft ambient music for your dining pleasure; rice in either brown or white form is white noise, a filler and there merely to absorb the sauce or juices. Noodles are pleasantly chewy. Rice in its whole form is just rice, except when fried. 

Lucky for me and other people with gluten and wheat problems, noodles can be made with rice, corn, chickpea, buckwheat, or black bean flour. I like rice flour-based ones for everyday consumption. Yes, you caught me. I still sneak in wheat pasta here and there maybe once a week.

Today’s lunch was procured from a takeout place specializing in noodles. My third trip to the dentist in a week (nothing alarming–cleaning, repair of small chips in my front teeth before they grew large, and a new bite guard to wear at night since I ground holes in the other one) warranted a treat. I had the Indonesian peanut noodles; Hubby had Japanese pan noodles. Delicious, but made with wheat-based udon. 

We both are happy, though. Noodles just have a way of doing that.

Gode Cookery

Bristol Ren Faire opens on July 6. T-57 days and counting. I am getting fixes to tide me over by watching “The Tudors” again and looking up period recipes. Don’t know if I’ll try any, but I am finding it amusing.    

The most comprehensive site:   It’s your one stop destination for recipes medieval and Renaissance with a toe dipped into the 1600’s. Not only do they post the original recipe for the close and fryez (a cross between a pie and a fritter) or various apple pie recipes, but they translate the recipe and the ingredients into modern vernacular. The people who run the site cook at SCA events and ren faires in the southeast, providing eaters with historically accurate dining experiences.  

Gode Cookery provides a list of foods not used in the name of historical accuracy. Potatoes, peppers, and tomatoes as well as that Ren Faire staple, the turkey leg, didn’t come into play until the 1600’s or so since the New World had yet to be overrun by the Europeans. Cabbage, carrots, apples, and spices abound, however. So did herbs such as parsley. Almonds and pistachios found their way into many savory recipes, not just for desserts. 

Still, a little artistic license with history is a good thing as we see in “The Tudors.” If it enhances the experience and inspires the imagination, it’s not a bad thing.

Especially when turkey legs are involved. 




The Evolution of the Waffle

Try these on for size:

I’m more of a pancake person, but waffles have their place as well, preferably in the center of the plate with real butter and real maple syrup, perhaps with a side of fruit. Maybe, for the sake of decadence, with a scoop of ice cream. I vastly prefer to make pancakes at home. It’s easier to find decent frozen wheat- and gluten-free waffles. 

Some of these sound pretty good. Anything with Nutella gets my attention as does almond butter. But as with many other things, and my unresolved childhood hangups about wanting some space between the protein, veggies, and carbs (Asian recipes excepted) in addition to not being a huge meat eater, I would politely decline. 

In fact, I would be wondering if the inventor was stoned, pregnant, or PMS-ing when he or she thought these up. 

I don’t know if this was what the inventors had in mind at all. The story goes that an exhausted knight staggered home from battle and sat on a bench near the fireplace. He didn’t see the plate of freshly made oatcakes and plunked his chain-mailed behind on top of them. They were still ok to eat, just had the pattern pressed into them. They realized that the oat cakes could hold more butter and jam thanks to the ridges in the pattern. So born was the gaufrette, named after the chain mail pattern.

The concept and name evolved into the waffle as we know it today as the thick fluffy Belgian, the thinner everyday one, and the crunchy decadence of the cone for ice cream.   

I’ve not made them from scratch, but as long as I have a toaster and access to the wheat-free ones, I remain in good shape.


Notes from History, or Are We That Freaking Bored?

Did you see this?

This morning I’m contemplating Rome’s classical period. Too many people weren’t paying attention when their history instructors warned that “those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it.” Today’s western world runs parallel to the Empire in a lot of ways: sharply divided socioeconomic classes; the ones in the upper layers coming up with new ways to flaunt it at the expense of others; overemphasis on sporting events; and seriously weird combinations of food to appease jaded palates all reflect the waning days of its empire. 

If you wanted to flaunt your wealth back then, you might treat your guests to a nice plate of stuffed mice for an appetizer followed by flamingo brain casserole. More modern combinations include smoked ice for whisky based cocktails; the above Pepsi-flavored Cheetos; and the current craze of putting bacon in everything, pancakes and waffles excepted. 

Somewhere along the line, overabundance became the norm, bolstered by the rise of processed and pre-made food. Instead of the monotony of hunger, there’s the monotony of having too much, leading to all sorts of crimes against culinary nature. Cro-nuts (croissant dough shaped into donuts and fried); the above mentioned bacon obsession; deep-frying things like beer and butter; really? There are also the creative combinations encouraged by the manufactures of food-like products, such as pseudo-Chinese spareribs glazed with corn syrup laden barbeque  sauce laced with a pre-sweetened orange drink powder.

At least the Romans’ flamingo brains and mice were unprocessed.

While I do research for this blog and for the newsletter, I frequently, I come across food-like products that sound as if they were invented by bored eighth-graders, such as the above-mentioned items. Ridiculous combinations coupled with the incessant pounding of the cool factor have lead to very strange culinary combinations, indeed.

Sometimes a cleansing of the palate is needed. Do a media detox, not just turning off the tube or severely limiting it, but with magazines and food websites as well. Make a deliberate choice to eat simply prepared whole foods.  And watch your taste buds regain their equalibrium again.