Friday, January 13, 2006

mulligatawny soup


when i was in high school, my guy friends were really into words. we traveled a lot by bus back then, and our waiting time at the stop provided ample opportunity to riff. "this really is an antiquated means of transportation..." one would say. [thoughtful pause among the four] "primordial", another would contribute. "antidiluvian." yes, they agreed. it was antidiluvian.

and so they would continue until a new synonomous challenge presented itself.

i never got into words as much as they were, and whether or not buses are truly antidiluvian, i still do not know. but one bit of vocabulary that i will always remember from those days is "procrustean". "procrustean" is a word Sam used to describe something "producing or designed to produce strict conformity by ruthless or arbitrary means".

but i heard "procrustean" as something "with the potential to taste really bad". "crust" conjured up the thought of bread. "pro", well that was obviously the latin root for "before". and "-ean"? that made me think of pre-historic eras, like the archaen period. bread before the archaen period? that couldn't be good.

anyway, it occurred to me a few days ago that words have a lot to do with our experience of food. "i'm on a quest for garlic," i informed my friend John over the phone. "what are you making?" he asked. "mulligatawny soup." i relished in saying it. "moo-lee-gah-TAH-ny? mulli-GA-tanee? i'm not sure."

"hmm..." he said. "you know what soup i like? bouillabaisse. BOO-yah-basss."

"ooh. that's a good one." actually, i had never tried bouillabaisse before. but just hearing the name made it sound damn good.

there are a lot of things i like to eat because i like the way they sound. think greens. radicchio. endive. mache. [who is the marketing genius behind all of these?]

anyway, my mulligatawny delivered on its promise. mulligatawny means "pepper water" in Tamil, a language used in southern India. i added apples, tomatoes, onions, ginger (lots, finely minced), and coconut milk. i have become a huge fan of chicken thighs (i swear i will never go back to chicken breast, ever). the spice came from the last little packet i had left from my visit to the veggie food festival with tim and juliana last year. i need to get my hands on more curry. if anyone has any suggestions...please help.

3 comments:

D to the A-N said...

hey g, isn't there an indian grocery store a few blocks south of central sq? like on river street or something? bet you could find some serious spicage over there...

i've been enlisting one of sarah's indian classmates to teach me how to cook indian food....so far i've learned one dish which tastes good when he makes it but tastes bad when i make it. grrrr

Genevieve said...

hi dan!
i'm bad with directions but better with landmarks. if by south you mean - more in the direction of that AWESOME dok bua thai restaurant across the river, then...yes! you're right. i should go.
btw - i should promote your veggie site here...can i??

Anonymous said...

You will go a long way before you find any "mulligatawny soup" in India. Perhaps there is some to be found at the venerable Calcutta Club in Kolkata. However, you would easily find and enjoy rasam.
More info:
http://ww2.abc13.com/Global/story.asp?S=5532689