Ghetto Rocket (Or, I’m Out For Cress-idents To Represent Me)

Sorry about the food-heaviness of some of these recent posts – work and learning WordPress have been kicking my ass, so it feels easier to slap on a picture of a salad here than write thoughtfully about my initial impressions of Jeff Chang’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – though when looking up the Amazon link to include in this post, I conveniently found that this review captures them quite well.

We made this Tamasin Day-Lewis recipe for pear and blue cheese salad because we happened to have most of the ingredients for it.

We’ve adopted watercress as our poor-man’s-rocket, since it’s a fraction of the price of rocket but still has the peppery kick. Cheese is very pricy here so we try not to go mad with it, but Alec saw the Cashel blue cheese in Jones the Grocer a few weeks back when we made our first visit to Dempsey Road in about two years, and couldn’t resist. YUPPIE. If you try this, you should note that the sesame seeds make the whole dish, so count them as essential. It’s not the best food photo, but I liked the texture of the seeds and watercress against the pear glistening with olive oil, dribbles of balsamic vinegar and its own juice.

Last night, I made Martha Stewart curried apple and potato soup, which was delicious though not particularly photogenic. It went really well with a simple avocado and watercress salad, and 2 slices of kneadyguy bread.

And now, just to keep things here slightly more street than ending a post with Martha Stewart, here’s an excerpt from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. It’s not perfect but I found it quite evocative, and more successful than some of Chang’s other ambitious attempts to set context and mood:

It was 1977.

Bob Marley was in a foreign studio, recovering from an assassin’s ambush and singing: “Many more will have to suffer. Many more will have to die. Don’t ask me why.” Bantu Stephen Biko was shackled, naked and comatose in the back of a South African police Land Rover. The Baader-Meinhof gang lay in suicide pools in a German prison. The Khmer Rouge filled their killing fields. The Weather Underground and the Young Lords Party crawled toward the final stages of violent implosion. In London, as in New York City, capitalism’s crisis left entire blocks and buildings abandoned, and the sudden appearance of pierced, mohawked, leather-jacketed punks on Kings Road set off paroxysms of hysteria. History behaved as if reset to year zero.

In the Bronx, Herc’s time was passing. But the new culture that had arisen around him had captured the imagination of a new breed of youths in the Bronx. Herc had stripped down and let go of everything, save the most powerful basic elements – the rhythm, the motion, the voice, the name. In doing so, he summoned up a spirit that had been there at Congo Square and in Harlem and on Wareika Hill. The new culture seemed to whirl backward and forward – a loop of history, history as loop – calling and responding, leaping, spinning, renewing.

Occasional Foodiness

We do a fair bit of cooking but I haven’t bothered to write much about it here since cooking is hardly a novelty to either of us. For the same reason, I have hardly any photos of the stuff we’ve cooked so far, because taking a photograph of my food before eating it would just never occur to me. But since my sister was crouching over our baked fish, snapping away like the keen food photographer she’s become, I thought I’d try my hand at it too, and am quite happy with the result.

It’s fish baked Greek style with dill, tomatoes and potatoes, from a Nigel Slater recipe. We used kurau (threadfin) steaks, and the dill is from our makeshift balcony herb garden. It’s a pretty great recipe because you hardly have to do anything – you chuck potatoes, onions and garlic in a baking tray with olive oil, bake for 10 minutes (180C), add the fish on top and surround it with tomatoes, season with herbs, lemon juice, salt and pepper, bake for 35 minutes more and it comes out perfect.

Apart from that, we also made chicken piccata and roasted aubergine, tomato and chickpea soup, and much credit for the delicious success of those dishes goes to the reliability of Elise’s recipes. My mum made braised cabbage with wholegrain mustard, which went very well with everything else, and I whipped up apple, pear and banana smoothies for dessert. It was probably the easiest, cheapest, least stressful, most universally successful dinner party we’ve ever done. And contrary to Alec’s yuppie parody, I can assure you that all ingredients (except the chickpeas, weirdly, we needed Cold Storage for those) can be purchased in NTUC Marine Parade.