A green salad with dukkah. Dukkah is on my list of perfect food compliments. I use the word compliments because they aren’t condiments. My short list contains pesto (Italian), hummus (Arabian), gomashio (Japanese), guacamole (Mexican), and dukkah. My dukkah recipe is Egyptian. Last week I made an Indian-Californian pesto, w peanuts instead of pine nuts and cilantro and toasted coriander seeds. So funny when European or Asian friends find out that Americans use two different names for the same herb, depending on whether it is fresh or dried!!


The novel The Dervish House by Ian McDonald features a hunt for a mellified man.

Mellified man – Wikipedia

I finished Hopeland a while ago and enjoyed it very much. So I started reading an older novel by McDonald, from 2010, called The Dervish House. I am digging this one, too, and learned about the Mellified Man. The book describes the process at length, but the above linked entry in Wikipedia will tell you enough. What a wild and crazy idea? Did anyone actually do this? 

Staying with the honey theme, here is something I saw on Colossal: Honeycomb Swells Across Ava Roth’s Embroidered Works Made in Collaboration with Bees

And I remember seeing this vase at the MoMA years ago:

The Honeycomb Vase “Made by Bees”:

Libertíny constructed vase-shaped beehive scaffolds (removed at the end of the process) and then let nature take its course: a group of bees went to work building a hive, layer by layer, in the same shape as the scaffold. The work took from two to ten days, depending on the weather, the season, the size of the colony, and its need to expand. It took one week and approximately forty thousand bees to complete this particular Honeycomb Vase. The process, which the designer calls “slow prototyping” in an ironic counterpoint to today’s rapid manufacturing technologies, poetically brings a natural phenomenon full circle, starting with flowers, which nourish bees and enabled them to produce the vase, and ending with a vessel that is meant to contain flowers.

Gas Stoves

Gas stoves pollute homes with benzene, emitting more of the known carcinogen than present in secondhand smoke, according to a new study.

– Scientific American

I thought I would never enjoy cooking on an electric stove. If you are considering the switch, I can tell you that it works very well but it takes some time getting used to. I wouldn’t go back. 

Cotton Candy Berry

OL 230615 07 38 46

Fruit from a Jamaica Cherry tree. The color is delicate, a pink rather than red. The iPhone (top) did a good job. I didn’t hold the Canon (bottom) steady enough for the 1/80 of a second exposure. 

Jamaica Cherry is called Pão de Seda in Portugal and Pau de Seda in Brazil. Silk Bread vs Silk Stick. Both are rather inventive names for this fruit. It also begs the question: is a bread stick called Pão Pau?? There is long list of vernacular names at the wikipedia link. I haven’t tried the fruit yet but hear that the English names Cotton Candy Berry and Strawberry Tree are somewhat indicative of the flavor. 

PS: Google translates Pão Pau as “Dick Bread” but Pau Pão as “Stick Bread”. Use wisely.

Thoughts about Food + Music

When a person is offered lots of food that they know they love, do they still try strange and unfamiliar food? When hungry, doesn’t one prefer to eat what one knows rather than try something that looks and smells… unusual? Isn’t the same true for streamed music? How often do we listen to favorite albums, or our own playlists, rather than explore unknown music? 

One great element of travel used to be the immersion into a food culture. You traveled somewhere and ate the local food. There was no choice and that was all that was available. A few decades ago Italy only had Italian food – as if that could be a hardship because Italian cuisine is really great. This is no longer true, of course, and nowadays you can observe tourists going to the familiar McDonalds near the Pantheon in Rome, rather than exploring the Italian restaurants in the area. Or going to an Asian  restaurant in Milan. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. 

We are cocooned inside a bubble of our own preferred music, food, clothing, atmosphere, etc. etc. The same is true for opinions. No matter what our opinion, however unusual, we can always find places where this opinion will be reenforced. Social Media provides. Perhaps we can say we are choking on our own preferences which, in the process, are becoming narrower and narrower. 

Except for public radio and college stations, all commercial radio has a cultural bandwidth of maybe five degrees. Everything sounds the same. Everything is constantly repeated. Every hour sounds similar to the last. Some people were shocked when AI created a perfect simile of a Drake song… why?

I don’t have a solution. Eat local food, wherever. Avoid chain-anything. Have Shazam at the ready to discover the music you might hear in the Uber to the airport, or in a local shop – I keep Shazam accessible on the Apple Watch, to be immediately engaged at a whim.  Follow RSS blog feeds by people with different musical tastes… that’s how I discovered the Bandcamp page from my earlier post about Voices + Paintings

What are some of the things you do to discover food, music, etc.?

Tea + Cha

I knew that there are two main words for the popular beverage made from Camellia sinensis, namely TEA and CHA. I remembered that it depended on which port in China the tea left from. In the south of China the infusion drink was called teh, or tê, which is also how it is pronounced in German, where it is written Tee. (I think it is the only word in German that has a consonant followed by two identical vowels)

In the north of China the drink was called cha.

After reading my post about hacking matcha in my kitchen, Yumiko sent me a link to a Portuguese website that sells tea and tools. Read their story here. It’s remarkable!

Nosso Chá is the result of the first harvest of green tea in continental Portugal. Our tea plantation is situated in what is known as “the land of the camellias” on the coast of Northern Portugal and is the first of its kind in this location. Chá Camélia uses only organic, artisanal production methods. Nosso Chá is picked by hand and processed in an Asian style.

Nosso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

Very impressive. I also found the following quote, but can’t find any evidence to support the claim of TEA being an acronym.

Luso Chá celebrates the first European imports of tea by the Portuguese in the 19th century, in which the boxes were marked with the acronym “TEA”, an abbreviation for Transport of Aromatic Herbs. The origin of the word TEA that the English then gave to this incredible drink.

Luso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

I looked at the Wikipedia entry for tea and found that my memory was mostly correct. 

The etymology of the various words for tea reflects the history of transmission of tea drinking culture and trade from China to countries around the world. Nearly all of the words for tea worldwide fall into three broad groups: te, cha and chai, present in English as tea, cha or char, and chai. The earliest of the three to enter English is cha, which came in the 1590s via the Portuguese, who traded in Macao and picked up the Cantonese pronunciation of the word. The more common tea form arrived in the 17th century via the Dutch, who acquired it either indirectly from the Malay teh, or directly from the tê pronunciation in Min Chinese. The third form chai (meaning “spiced tea”) originated from a northern Chinese pronunciation of cha, which travelled overland to Central Asia and Persia where it picked up a Persian ending yi.

Tea – Wikipedia

Cha from the Portuguese and Tea from the Dutch. Chai is Cha plus a Persian “yi”. All this learning about tea… I had to get up and make a glass of matcha. 

I love that organic green tea is produced in northern Portugal and will find a store in Lisbon that carries it. 

Portugal isn’t the only new ground for growing tea. Here is a video about a tea grower on Vancouver Island and here is their website.

Thanks Yumiko.