Why accept a piece of (matcha) cake, when you can have (both the cake and) the recipe? When I started giving away my sourdough starter, last winter, I didn’t expect it to become such a surprising way to connect with people of all paths of life. In weeks, I saw my Elvira being kneaded into beautiful breads of all shapes and types by the hands of many friendly strangers. One of those pairs of hands was Yuki’s.
Last week I showed you where to have a great meal in jail. I wouldn’t be living up to Italian hospitality rules if I didn’t offer you dessert and coffee after lunch. As Soup As Possible met Pasticceria Giotto and Caffé Lazzarelle to tell you how they’re made in jail.
Some people find cooking therapeutic. Food helps us connect with each other across differences. Everybody eats. Truisms, aren’t they? But the most obvious things can be revolutionary in unexpected places. I realized that last month, when I went to jail. [Watch the video below]
I hate to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as Italian cuisine… Ok, perhaps that’s a bit of a stretch, but let me clarify with a recipe that will make ripples in the fabric of space-time: piconi ascolani, brought to you by theoretical physicist Giuseppe D’Ambrosi (with a gravitational waves topping).
Being surrounded by coughing people and feeling a tad under the weather myself, I feel in the perfect mood to present you with a flu-busting soup, the second of Nina Subramani’s Indian recipes for As Soup As Possible YouTube channel. Let her Kitchen Story warm your stomach and entertain you with this spicy and distinctively South-Indian takkali rasam with toor dal.
For centuries, Amsterdam has also been referred to as Mokum, from the Yiddish word mokem, meaning refuge, safe haven. The city earned the nickname during times of religious persecutions in Europe, when Jews and other religious refugees would seek asylum here. It wasn’t the best of times for Dutch Catholics, who – in turn – were discriminated and persecuted on this very land, especially during the Protestant Reformation. The Yiddish nickname, together with the celebrated ‘Dutch tolerance’, stuck with the city of Amsterdam, while refugees from all over Europe contributed their skills and resources to shape the Dutch economy, society and even the city landscape to this day.
During the Christmas holidays I reunited with my friend Nina after almost a year apart. She had moved back to South India after three years in the Netherlands and was in Amsterdam for a few days. Irresistibly, our catching up ended up revolving around food.
I have mentioned in a previous post how I picked up sourdough baking last spring. What defines sourdough baking and makes it critically different to any other cooking specialty is that you don’t just embark on its practice, you rather start a partnership with its material object and its very real sticky substance. It’s not an abstract hobby and it comes with all the responsibility of adopting a living being (mono-cellular as is) that needs to be looked after. You think that buying a yearly subscription to your local gym will feel binding enough to actually have you going to pilates at least a couple of times per week, but knowing that your instructor won’t starve to death if you desert your class will probably entitle you to keep watching tv-series instead. Try ignoring your cat when it’s hungry, on the other hand, and let me know what really gets you off your couch.
In the spring of 2005 I was dealing with my first real job in a communication agency. My office was in a business incubator located in a repurposed industrial site out of town; quite a charming setting, although hard to reach by public transport. As I stood waiting for my bus to the city after the working day, I would watch rows of cars leave the premises; nearly all of them left in my same direction and had no passengers. That patent waste of fuel, space, money and time (this latter being on me) kept nagging at me for a few days. As an optimistic 24 years old at the peak of her naivety, I soon worked out what seemed a common-sense solution: I wrote a friendly note introducing myself and my proposal and pinned it to the message-board in the hall of the building, positive that some of the many young and progressive people working there would respond enthusiastically to share car rides and expenses with me.
I’ve always been fascinated by people who are passionately obsessed with what they do, no matter what it is. For these individuals, the pursuit of excellence is highly addictive, they are quality-junkies with an insane attention for details. Typically, they have little interest in entertainment and live in a symbiosis with their obsession; others often admire them but tend to avoid inviting them to parties. Yesterday I went to Ten Katemarkt, a neighbourhood market in the West of Amsterdam, for my grocery shopping. Some veggies and a cone of fries was all I was after, in this unexpectedly sunny Dutch afternoon, but I ended up making an interesting encounter instead – the path to serendipity is unpredictable by definition.