Saturday, July 18, 2015

Kale and Heavy Metals and Seaweed and other Tricky Notions

Expo Chefs from a Canadian Magazine I bought on eBay.  It wasn't until Expo 67 that we Montrealers got to eat samosas and sushi. (Actually, my neighbours were from India, by way of London, and I would be invited to their afternoon tea and the food tasted weird, I remember. The dishes contained very strong,very alien spices and not much sugar, not as much as I was used to.

So I tasted this food back in 1964. And my father had been born in Malaya, a child of the Raj, and he liked mulligatawny soup. My mother wasn't keen on making that, although she was a great cook. Today, I live on lentils.

The other day I read that too much kale might be bad for you. (I'm not surprised.) Like seaweed, kale might have too many heavy metals, so should be eaten in moderation. (Like everything else.) I eat a lot of kale and cabbage, because I really like it, but maybe I should cut down.

A friend recently told me that kale and such, uncooked, has a chemical that can leech calcium from bones. That makes me think of a friend who suffers from osteoporosis who diligently drinks a green smoothie every day, packed with raw kale and such, and has done so for years on end. Hmm.

Which reminds me.

My mother was an excellent cook, as I said, although she was heavy-handed with the ACCENT, the monosodium glutamate...

The one food she RUINED was sausages. She fried those La Belle Fermieres to an inch of their life, serving us up dried pork in a thick black blanket of carbon.

It's an example of the law of unintended consequences. In order to protect us from the dreaded trichinosis she fed us heaps of carcinogens.

(We didn't use a bbq back then so I guess it evened out.)

And she fed us the rest of the meat menu almost raw, 'blue' as she called it, including hamburgers.


She only bought what she referred to as 'mince meat' as in low fat hamburger, and she spiced it heavily, and sometimes while it was still there on the plate, I'd push my grubby little fingers into the heap of meat and grab some and down it raw!

Steak Tartar.

Today, in Ontario, the are trying to get restaurants to stop serving steak tartar because of one food poisoning somewhere.

Some high end restaurants are resisting. "Just because some people don't know how to cook, it doesn't mean we don't."

It's cockeyed thinking. There are many instances of food poisoning and if you followed along this line ALL foods would be banned.

Or we'd have to go back to 1900 America when loving mothers cooked all their meals into mush because they thought (knew) it was safer to do that.

Along the way, the sad part is,  these talented women got deskilled...

I just learned (on yet another online course) that the American diet was always terrible, because American just didn't produce a large variety of foods at the beginning. They produced a few staples because American farms were started up from the beginning as export ventures.

American farmers were supposed to feed the world first, then themselves.

And if immigrants brought their wonderful traditional dishes to American they were ACTIVELY discouraged from cooking them.

Henry Ford sent people into the homes of his employees to tell them to do just this. From then on Macaroni and cheese was they were to eat. And meat and potatoes.

And it took until the 1960's and cheaper air travel before North Americans started eating interesting foods again, in their own kitchens.

There were pizza parlours and Chinese restaurants in the first part of the 20th century, but those places weren't cheap enough for everyone.

You ate out only on special occasions, unless you were a member of the Rat Pack, or something.

 Anyway, back to trichinosis, my childhood nemesis.

 Me in 1967 or so, the only picture I have of that era.

Apparently that fearful fad was purposely concocted in the 1800s to makes some sense of Hebrew Law in the Bible.

So my mother, a lapsed Catholic, was being informed by a religious source, sort of.

She herself, never ate fish, which she cooked just for me from frozen filets bought for 35 cents a pound, I still recall.

Sole, Haddock or Cod.

She didn't eat fish because she had been forced to as a child on Fridays. Her French Canadian mom, who made the best tourtiere in town, from scratch without a recipe, and the best baked beans, too,  didn't know how to cook fish right..

She had never learned, I guess.  And it probably wasn't very fresh either back in the 1930's. Not in Montreal... although I think Waldman's must have been there, on The Main. (That was the place we trendy college students visited in the 70's to find fresh fish, the kind Jewish immigrant moms approved of.)

My grandmother's baked bean jar. I have yet to find a use for it. It must have been filled with something else originally. I wonder what.