Sometimes, I think I can feel myself growing into myself. In a good way.
For one, my relationship with comfort is much more amicable than in times past. A friend whom I admire figures that many people’s preoccupation with comfort prevents them from wading into uncomfortable critical reflections or experiences, and thus stymies their personal growth. Apparently, Euro-North American society’s fixation on comfort in the form of mindless entertainment isn’t such a boon for public health, either. Nor does it serve to support the well-being of the planet or decent labour standards in countries that produce all of our coveted plastic gadgets.
I am nonetheless a firm believer in indulging in that which makes us feel at home in the beauty of the world. Sensual pleasures in the form of food can be a way to remind us of our collective humanity and physicality.
There is something uncommonly honest about shared enjoyment of food and the body, and I think it contradicts the modern directive to relate to one another through carefully constructed, disembodied virtual identities. If one is inclined to intellectualize the act of conscious eating, local food may prompt us to consider how we can unpack the colonial baggage that pockmarks the land on which it was grown; how to celebrate the elements that tie us together while severing national habits of oppression.
Comfort feels most comforting to me when it exists within a gently swinging tension. The sort of tension that brings relief from resting one’s arms after paddling hard against an upriver current. From embracing a dear friend after a period of separation. From warbling a French-Canadian voyageur song after 10 years of its neglect in a dusty corner of the auditory cortex. And, as in the case of this post’s namesake, from downing a steaming bowl of rice noodles in a surprise rainstorm along the Bowron Lake canoe circuit.
Sesame-mushroom scape sauce
Yields enough for at least 4 servings, and probably more.
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1.5 Tbsp grated ginger
- 3 cups chopped brown mushrooms
- 1/2 lb garlic scapes, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 2 Tbsp Tamari
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 3 Tbsp dark miso
- 1-2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large yam, finely cubed (unpeeled if organic)
- 200 g firm tofu, finely cubed
- 1 tsp Tamari
- 1 red pepper, finely cubed
- 1 small bunch kale, finely chopped (lacinato holds its crinkliness remarkably well after being dehydrated)
- 1.5 Tbsp black and white sesame seeds
In a large (and preferably cast iron) pan, heat the oil to medium-high. Sauté the onions on medium-low heat for 8 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add the garlic and ginger, and stir for another 2 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms, scapes, cumin, coriander, Tamari, maple syrup and nutritional yeast, and sauté on medium-low heat until the mushrooms are tender and release their juices (~8-10 minutes). Add the miso, sesame oil and pepper, and remove from heat after 2 additional minutes.
Scoop the mixture into a food processor and puree thoroughly. At this point, the sauce has a suspicious resemblance to my miso-mushroom gravy recipe.
In the empty frying pan, again heat the oil to medium-high. Cook the cubed yam on medium-high heat until softened (about 10 minutes), adding a small amount of water if necessary. Add the tofu and tamari, sautéeing for a few additional minutes. Toss in the red pepper, kale and sesame seeds, cooking until the greens have barely wilted.
Combine the pureed mixture with the vegetables.
TO DEHYDRATE AND REHYDRATE (for 2 hardy paddlers):
Scoop 2 cups of the sauce onto each parchment paper-lined dehydrator tray and spread evenly. Each 2-cup tray will feed one person. Dehydrate for 24-36 hours, and pack two trays worth of dehydrated sauce into a thick freezer bag.
Dump the dehydrated sauce into a minimum 2-L pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and add 200 g white rice noodles. The noodles probably won’t all fit in the pot at first, but be patient and gently push them down as they soften. Add water as the noodles and sauce absorb liquid, stir constantly, and taste the noodles for doneness after 5-8 min. Tuck in.