Touch - The temperature of things

Touch - The temperature of things

By
Chui Lee Luk
Contains
5 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742702407
Photographer
Chris Chen

Here’s my question: I wonder if you can recall the same confusion I felt, growing up, when trying to differentiate between temperature and taste? (I may simply be dragging others into my own confusion by revisiting it here, but I’d like to think some inspiration can come from examining old memories, which, after all, is why I’m writing this book.)

The confusion became apparent once I’d grown accustomed to spicy heat and was no longer so tentative about trying the fieriest dishes that could be conjured up with peppercorns and chillies. It was obviously very hot and humid where we lived and that’s an immutable environmental issue (to be fixed only by sitting in a room blasted with icy air-conditioning). I remember sitting down with my family to a new version of a pork dish that my mother had come up with: hock braised with chilli, black beans and pineapple. There was a delicious new intensity to this dish that I wasn’t used to. It was much sourer, more spicy and the dish was served scalding hot. I blew on a piece of pineapple to cool it, as advised by my parents. The explosion of heat in my mouth made me break out in a sweat, and then keep sweating profusely. It was a wonder that a piece of pineapple could retain so much heat and absorb so much chilli spiciness. I can now describe that combination of temperature and spicy heat as making me feel as though I were in a furnace. However, at that time, confusion and puzzlement led to distrust of foodstuffs (and parents).

It was confusing at other times also. Because of the constant tropical heat I had rarely shivered with cold. Even when I got out of swimming pools, or the sea, the water was warm and the ambient temperature balmy enough that any breeze was soothing rather than cooling. I knew of shivering with cold through stories of colder lands and from what I could see on television or films. So, how was it that I only had to look at the plate of mango pickles to shiver? And shivered again when I tasted them? Those pickles weren’t chilled; they were room temperature, but I felt as if I were experiencing cold.

It might be annoying for you, but I’m not seeking to explain the physiological factors behind the reactions above. I’m trying to draw a conclusion as to how I can design dishes that make people physically react; not simply sit there, chewing and swallowing and perhaps being interested or amazed by the taste sensation. Cooking creates an ephemeral experience and there is only a very limited opportunity to elicit a reaction from the eater so that the dish becomes part of their memory (if that’s to be considered the point of the experience). Another way to capture the imagination of the eater is to proceed beyond the bounds of the sense of taste and draw responses from one of the other senses. A non-conventional combination of taste and temperature is initially weird and will make the eater think and wonder. A sense of ease and well-being can come from something sweet and comfortingly warm. Those are the issues I’m trying to explore in revisiting my memories of confusion.

Recipes in this Chapter

    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again