19 September 2011

Lime pickle, dried squid, vegemite, halvah, dates in space

Further to my questions to you the other day, more queries.

From Star Wars to Avatar, to the freshly published Robert Reed novella "The Ants of Flanders" in Fantasy & Science Fiction, the food we eat in space seems to have been designed by McDonald's and British Airways. There's an assumption that it's all hard going, and as textureless as the foamed lobster 'molecular gastronomy' joke pawned off on today's luxury-weighted diners with more money than sense.

But what if these assumptions of bland untasty spacefood are wrong? What if people in space are going to be very different to the assumed? What if they have, for instance, taste? And what if they did not necessarily grow up sucking on Mac's teats and the products of companies that put the ic in artificial?

What do you think people off-earth will eat? What would you propose that they should be offered?

Lime Pickle - the perfect space food?
  • Reduces nausea
  • Digestive
  • Adds taste to everything
  • Can be eaten alone
  • Sugar free
  • Indestructible
  • Gets better with age
What would you pack?


JP said...

On Brigade Road in Bangalore there is a shopping mall called 5th Avenue, one of the first malls built in this city. Its architecture was vaguely meant to suggest a Swiss castle for reasons that are shrouded in obscurity. The site where it stands was formerly a colonial bungalow inhabited by an Anglo-Indian lady who was renowned for her Mulligatawny Soup powder. Migrant Anglo-Indians from Australia would load anyone visiting the Lesser Homeland with requests for care packets of this esteemed dessicate. In her honour, and in memory of my dead city, I would like to nominate Mulligatawny Soup Powder, duly reconstituted or not, as ideal space food. The best part is, it would go really well with Lime Pickle.

anna tambour said...

This is fabulous! Not only a perfectly delightful menu item, but a redolent story.

And as Hobson-Jobson would put it, such an excellent sobriquet, your title 'esteemed dessicate'.

Do you think anyone other than dessicated spaceMajors would like digging into this treasure? Is it still being made? Have you ever tasted it?

More please!

JP said...

Yes, it's a variant of Rasam, basically, created by bemused subcontinental servants, called upon to provide a soup course. I suspect it may be of Southern origin because Mulligatawny nicely resolves into the Tamil Molaga Thani or Pepper Water. The soup is still being made and relished, but I don't know if there are aged Anglo-Indian ladies still preparing the powdered version, usually packaged in the form of tightly-packed balls I am told. This is a good recipe for the soup but you may have to canvas the Anglo-Indian community in your own nation for the secret of reducing it to powder. Someone's Auntie Prudence will know.

JP said...

Oops here is the recipe: http://www.soupsong.com/rchickn5.html

It can also be prepared without chicken.

Lucy said...

I heard a thing recently about the passing of Anglo-Indian cuisine, that the young people aren't interested in it. It seems to me that it's perhaps the ancestor of the idea of curry we grew up with, rather gloopy and with things like apple and raisins in it, or the kind of thing Amelia's brother came back and tried to make his family and Becky Sharpe eat in Vanity Fair.

I do love lime pickle. I've tried to make it, but unsuccessfully. That was pre-internet and by guesswork mind. Pataks is fine though.

anna tambour said...

Lucy, what you say reflects what the twenty-something from China said to me last week at the new Asian minimarket that opened up in town. "You really like tea?" he asked. "Yes, don't you?"
"No," he laughed. "Only old people in China drink tea."

JP, Thank you for adding to the stock of information about M... soup. Auntie Prudence indeed! This stirs horrid visions of her floating in a spaceship, with a stay on her skirt so it doesn't show her ankles, and her little finger in permanent crook, awaiting the cup of tea that can never come. The Pepper Water reminds me of a hungry time some years ago when I was in Potosi--a bitterly cold 4000 metres high (in more than one way) in Bolivia. This grey old silver-mining town had only a few local purple potatoes, bags of dried red chili peppers, and coca leaves for sale. At the local eatery, there was no menu as there was only one thing served. Tin bowls of a soup the consistency of water, with a few bits of potato floating in it. The colour was tomato red, but at the touch of a drop of it on my lip was like being blitzed with a crème brûlée blowtorch. Instant blisters. I don't know what would have happened to my tongue and throat if that stuff got in. Around me were hungry miners, getting warm from this cruel mockery of sustenance. Everyone chewed coca leaves for the altitude, and to help deaden hunger pains (for it is true that living that high does make you not hungry [because you feel slightly nauseated]--but only for a time). Prissily, I didn't chew coca leaves, and instead went to sleep crying. Lucky for me, I wasn't a local, sentenced as so many people are, to exist in a place in which versions of numbing are the choices, if any choice exists at all.

But the pepper water you describe is completely different. Have you had Tamil Molaga Thani? Here's one recipe.