Archive for the 'Food' Category

Meter-long Coffee

South Indian filter coffee is rapidly disappearing, replaced by instant coffee powder.  But whether or not these street-side coffee bars use filter or instant coffee, the “mixing” of boiled milk and coffee is still done the same way.

Cooling coffee

The coffee is generally served in a steel cup with a lip and a small, empty bowl (also with a lip) so that the customer can perform a mini version of the same process – pouring the coffee from the cup into the bowl, and vice verse, holding on to the edge of the lips of the vessels (the liquid is boiling hot!) – but this time, to cool the coffee enough to drink.

And the taste?  Like coffee candy.

India Imports Onions from Pakistan

The astonishingly high price of onions throughout India has pushed the local topic of conversation away from the mega corruption scandals of the day (the Commonwealth Games (CWG), Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society, the give-away of the 2G telecommunications spectrum, etc.) to the lowly onion, an indispensable ingredient in Indian cooking.  Nationwide, prices are around Rs. 60 to 80 per kilo.  In Pondicherry, it is Rs. 80 ($1.82 at Rs. 44 to U.S. $1).

India exported onions until April 2010.  Prolongued rains in the onion growing areas of Maharashtra, Gujarat and South India resulted in the current shortages.  Effective yesterday, 21 December 2010, the Price Fixation Advisory Committee (PFAC) of the Ministry of Agriculture issued a decision to “voluntarily suspend issuance of NOCs [no objection certificates] for export of onion by NAFED [National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India], NCCF [National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India], and other STEs [I assume this stands for State Trading Enterpises]…” and that NAFED and NCCF would sell onions at Rs. 35-40 through their retail outlets. Wholesale prices in Nasik, one of the major growing areas, came down 35% based on the announcement.  The same day, in a complete reversal, India imported onions from Pakistan. (The cost of onions from Pakistan, including customs duty, cess, transportation and handling chareges, is Rs. 18-20/kg.)  Now, prices in Pakistan are expected to go up 25-30%.

How is the common wo/man affected?  In Pondicherry, street vendors are adding cabbage as filler to supplement onions.  A Times of India Poll:  Will you continue to buy onions? currently stands at 48% (Yes) to 52% (No).  One “no” voter blames the price rise on the 2G, CWG, Adarsh, and other scams.  This article claims that onion prices will threaten India’s growth and government, and a Facebook comment states:  “Give me my bonus in onions.”

Salmonberries

Red Salmonberry

We have been (and are still) anxiously awaiting the blackberry harvest here in Vancouver.  We have some big plans for those blackberries – gobbling them up as we pick them, over ice cream, cobbler… can’t wait…

Then, two weeks ago, our friend Ellen Bermingham reported a mother and two kids picking berries in Pacific Spirit Regional Park during her afternoon run.  What were they doing?  It is way too early for blackberries.

Yellow Salmonberry

On Saturday, we saw what looked like yellow raspberries while hiking in Capilano River Regional Park with Tim Ryan and Rissa.  And yesterday, Mark saw several groups picking what turned out to be salmonberries on his mountain bike ride through Pacific Spirit Park.  Aha!  Salmonberries (rubus spectabilis).  Who knew?

Salmonberries

Today, we grabbed what containers we had and hopped on my scooter to go berry picking.  A mother and two kids (perhaps the same ones that Ellen saw?) were already at one spot close to the road.  We forged on further ahead, wading into thorny thickets yet untouched.  We found both the yellow and red fruit – enough to fill the three containers that we had brought, hoping that we had at least 6 squashed cups worth.

Boiled with sugar and pectin

The flavors are very delicate – the yellow different from the red.  The juice runs clear.  There is no discernible smell.  (Mark describes the smell as “forest”.)

Salmonberry jam

We emptied out all the jam and mustard jars we had, sterilized them, decided on a fruit to sugar ratio, boiled the fruit with sugar and pectin, filled the jars, boiled them once more to create a vacuum seal and viola – our first attempt at jam.


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