Those of you who buy our take-home, litre containers, know that (for food) we have a two-week expiration from date of preparation. People don’t know that I, (and many who work at Raw Tibicos/ Fizz Kitchen), take the product home after expiration, to eat, enjoy, and of course, quality check! Last week, Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl was on the menu; this week, that’s what is on my menu — as I was heating and eating — it occurred to me that this particular menu item could use a little explanation.
Traditionally, food was divided into taste categories:
These are the taste palates that chef’s work with; how the tastes are combined, turns out to be strongly influenced by culture and history. Throughout most of history, chefs aimed to have each of these tastes in every bite. Desserts would stress sweet — of course — but salty, sour, savoury and bitter should be there, too. For example, think of a lovely pound cake flavoured with lemon peel, and topped with fruit. The generous amount of butter provides savoury, sour comes from the fruit — hopefully the chef didn’t skimp on salt — and the lemon peel provides just that extra oomph of bitter — everything wrapped up in a delicious wash of sugar!
For some reason historians have not identified, Western cuisine turned away from the ideal of many tastes in one bite, to single flavours, intensified and showcased. The revolution began in France, where chefs began to take a food, such as roast duck, and intensify the duck flavours by using drippings, organ meats, and perhaps bones, to make sauces that intensified the duck flavour. Duck, stuffed with fruits and spices, served with a bitter, salty, relish, came to stand for “grandpa’s” meal; sophisticated diners demanded a slice of duck, separate from fruit, in a gravy of duck. I think this style of eating is familiar to most of us today, as the French concept took Western culture by storm!
As food designer at Raw Tibicos/ Fizz Kitchen, I appreciate both food traditions; both the all-in-one, and the single flavour; however, I have noticed that in the world of single flavours, one flavour is hard to isolate and eat alone: bitter. We can eat sweet alone — savoury and salty, certainly — sour, in small quantities, is delightful — but a mouthful of pure bitter is — honestly — bitter! What a shame this is! Bitter flavours are famous for waking up, and balancing our immune systems, and doing the same for digestion. No one ever ate too many calories of a food with bitter in it; however, when the stomach is a little off — when one is thinking about junk food — rather than healthy — bitter is a hero. Some may find calling bitter a hero an exaggeration — for those few, I suggest, when you are feeling slightly “off”, try bitter’s brawny, virile, rugged style, and see how you feel now!
Therefore, after a very long introduction, I present: Hearty Lentil Sarrasin Bowl. This lentil, sarrasin and olive oil meal is turned into a hero, with the addition of grapefruit peel. The green lentils, sarrasin and olive oil provide a rich, savoury, salty taste, with a satisfying, almost meat-like mouth feel. Flashing in-and-out, like sunshine sparkling on the lake, is the light, fresh bitter taste of grapefruit peel, giving that extra twinkle that makes it all beautiful. Paired with our water kefir/ Tibicos drink, one has the sweet and sour flavours that are missing from the Hearty Lentil Bowl: and what does a meal with all five flavours equal? Correct! Feeling full and oh-so-satisfied, on less calories. Delicious!