Monday, September 19, 2011

How to do something New - invite a friend to help with Bagna Cauda

Bagna Cauda was tremendously popular starter dish in Japan last time I was there, but rarely seen on menus here in Sydney. 

Bagna Cauda from Bon Appetit

Its simply an array of fresh baby vegetables, dipped into a hot buttery sauce of anchovy and garlic. Like a seventies fondue party, a candle is lit under the sauce, to keep things moving. 

Minimum shopping, Minimum washing up

I've long thought: What a useful, low-energy Permaculture dish.
You just go to your balcony garden, pick a few stalks of celery, florets of cauliflower, or baby pea pods, as they come into season. You blanch them by pouring over water from the kettle.
You hold a piece of chewy Italian bread under each vegetable stick, to catch the drips of sauce, then instead of washing the dishes afterwards, you just eat the bread

Since I have a farewell party coming up, with a 'Paleolithic' theme, I decided on Bagna Cauda, or 'hot bath', as a somewhat suitable hunter-gatherer dish. 
I know, I know. They didn't have grain in caveman times, so no bread. No domesticated animals either, so no butter. But its close. 

Garden Bath, illustration by Cecilia

Next I had to decide on a friend to help me cook the new things I had planned. 

Yes. Like everyone ever alive, I'm hesitant to do things I haven't done before.
The further I go from my playful kittenhood, the more conservative I become. 

It took me a few years of running "Inner Permaculture' workshops to realize, that nobody 'changes' behaviour all by themselves.   But they do mimic people they like and trust, doing things a 'half step' from where they already are.

I like Nigella Lawson, so I got my Bagna Cauda recipie from her.
And I like Risa Koyama, a new friend, so I asked her over for a cooking session, so she could learn something new too.  

Risa and I enjoy tea on the Veranda
Risa gathers her cooking energy from the Harbor Bridge view
 Bagna Cauda Caveman Style

I chose the most 'primitive' veggies I could find, such as kale, flowering Asian greens, and the tatsoi I'm growing on the veranda.
The 'gurilla garden' we are cultivating around the corner made some contributions too.

All you have to do is pour boiling water over the vegetables to soften them, then arrange. No cooking.
I fried up a little polenta for her, as she had never seen it before. This crispy-fluffy way to eat corn-meal is one of my staples. She marveled over it, especially with the velvety-salty-pungent sauce.

Share the Surplus 

I sent Risa home with flowers, new recipes to try, and something a bit strange, but good.
A three-quarters empty bottle of Rice-bran oil.

For ten years I knew I shouldn't fry in olive oil, that it has a 'low smoke point', and that all its health benefits turn to poison when it gets too hot.
Yet I continued using it.
I pretended I would be careful and not let it burn, though it always did.
Why do I do this?
Because people like to keep on doing what they are already doing.

We are scary.

Giving my friends the little bit left from the bottle gets them started on the new, better habit, so the next time they shop, they recognize and reach for their new friend - cheap, high-smoke-point oil.

There are so, so many 'surpluses' like this that we can share, rubbish to us, but life-changing when put in the right hands.

Here is a useful oil guide from Whole Foods.
Enjoy salty bagna cauda with your snappy little vegetables.


Vaida said...

What a pretty dish. And I just love your picture with the bath!thanks Cecilia

Vaida said...

I forgot to ask, where do you get your inspiration?:)

Rose said...

Hi Cecilia, I have had a great time clicking around your site today, I came via Sonya's link at permaculturepathways. I had no idea permaculture could be applied to life! Chances are you won't be getting rid of me.

Cecilia Macaulay said...

Vaida, I was so proud to see what you have done with the garden drawing on your website. Keep me updated.
Rose, It will be great having such a well-read blogger visiting us here. Yes, Permaculture fixes everything, you just have to be lateral. xx

veggiegobbler said...

Oh, I still cook with olive oil. Thanks for the reminder. i'll have to try some rice bran oil.

Vaida said...

Hey, thank you for your tips:)not sure if you saw my comment on my blog, so I'm answering again: yes you can definitely use my picture.

I am planning to do wwoofing in Japan and Australia. Do you know anyone (a host) that you could recommend?

Thank you:)

Kitchen Benchtops said...
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