Photo courtesy Flickr
Recently, I stumbled upon a WGBH cooking show that was visiting Laos to explore local food. The narrator found surprise after surprise as she followed her host through the bush. He was harvesting ant eggs, among other ingredients for a salad.
Back in the outdoor kitchen, the host held a wide stalk of flavorful woody shrub and cross hatched a couple of inches of it with end-on slashes from what looked like a small cane knife. Then he trimmed across the grain with another rapid series of closely spaced cuts.
The narrator described him as “amazingly resourceful” in “making do” without a grater. To my ear, she sounded culture-bound and blind to the supreme elegance of using just one tool where one tool will do.
The wisdom of cutting towards oneself is another issue. On a visit to Puerto Rico in 1962, my first sight out of the airport was of a toddler herking a machete almost as long as he was tall, while his father kept an eye on what he was doing. I presume the Laotian man had been handling razor-sharp knives since he was old enough to lift one and was as unlikely to slash himself as I am to damage an eye applying mascara.
That said, if I have a woody shrub to process, I’ll go down to the tool chest and look for a rasp, but I’ll try the mincing technique on anything I can safely cut away.
-30- More after the jump.