My dear readers! I am so happy to be back in my kitchen, after an amazing week I spent in Austria. The reason for me visiting Austria was a summer academy organized by IFK- International Research Center for Cultural Studies from Vienna. This year the main topic for summer academy was “Hunger, Food and Asceticism”, so you can imagine how much I enjoyed all seven days exchanging the knowledge, perspectives and passion for this subject with other young, talented and friendly artists and scientists. I gave a talk about fat; about it’s historical and it’s new meaning. I asked, if obesity (adiposity) could be understood today as a new self technique (Michel Foucault) and as such, could it be interpreted as a modern form of political protest; as a reversal form of hunger strike. I followed this question on several ethnological, historical, philosophical and literary artefacts…
It is impossible for me to submit all impressions and information that enriched me during my time in Austria, but I promise I’ll try to please you with most delicious details in my future posts. For all of you who are following my blog Ritual Cuisine for a longer time, you’ll remember the post I wrote after I came back from the same academy (with another main topic) last year. It is very uncomfortable talking about the hunger in the world and at the same time being provided with tons of deliciously prepared food three times per day. Generally, I have a feeling that over the years academics take advantage of the most perverse deficit of our global politics and economy- the hunger- in order to rise themselves into eloquent and intelligent heroes. But, after this week my hope has been fed with the impression that maybe, maybe one day, one of us will be able to write a book that IS going to help saving the world from hunger.
It is not easy to understand the philosophy around food and eating. Sometimes, poetry can make things clearer. In this manner I introduce you the poem Compulsion, written by polish Nobel prize winner in literature, Wislawa Szymborska.
We eat another life so as to live.
A corps of pork with departed cabbage.
Every menu is obituary.
Even the kindest of souls
must consume, digest something killed
so that their warm hearts
won’t stop beating.
Even the most lyrical of poets.
Even the strictest ascetics
chew and swallow something
that one kept itself growing.
I can’t quite reconcile that with good gods.
Unless they’re naive,
unless they’re gullible
and gave all power over the world to nature.
And she, frenzied, send us hunger,
and where hunger begins,
Hunger instantly joins forces with the senses:
taste, smell, and touch and sight,
since we don’t fail to notice what dishes
are served on which plates.
Even hearing plays a part
in what takes a place,
since cheerful often rises at the table.
Zucchini Salad with Barley and Hazelnuts
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
2 large zucchinis, cute into “coins”
2 beetroots (red, golden, or candy stripe beets), finely sliced
200 g barley, cooked
70 g hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
1 Tsp butter, or ghee
handful of fresh rosemary, finely minced
50 g homemade sheep’s milk cheese, if desired- obligatory
1 small green chili pepper, finely minced, if desired- obligatory
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tsp natural olive oil
few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. First prepare barley. Wash it roundly and drain. Put in a larger pot, cover with 700 ml water and cook on the medium heat until the barley gets al-dente consistence. After the barley is cooked, drain it one more time and set aside.
2. While barley is cooking, place hazelnuts over the baking sheet and roast them in the oven (200 C) until they become fragrant and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside. When hazelnuts are chilled, chop them roughly and set aside.
3. In a larger frying pan heat the butter or ghee. Add finely minced rosemary and garlic. Stir and fry it for 1 minute. Add zucchini circles and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to low and fry zucchinis until they reached al-dente consistence. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a larger serving bowl combine all ingredients. Cover with cheese (if you use it) and chill pepper (if you use it). Generously pour everything with olive oil, drizzle with some lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!