I owe my boss for a lot of my foodie firsts. Not only is he an amazing cook but he's generous to boot. Today he introduced me to Gumbo. I have to admit that if I didn't know his food by reputation I wouldn't have been quite so excited about the supersize ziplock bag of khaki coloured lumpy mystery soup. But excited I was and disappointed I wasn't. Gumbo is good! It's spicy, fragrant, thick, meaty and just plain yummy. Weird thing is he used some of the tomato sauce we made last summer. That surprised me as the finished product tasted nothing like my usual tomato sauce based dishes. Then again I didn't taste my tomatoes in the paneer curry either. Hmmm, I think I have a new idea for an Anthony Bourdain style cooking show- send me around the world to exotic and exciting locations with a jar of tomato sauce as a hostess gift and see what people make with it.... definite possibilities and I would be way less trouble for network lawyers/ producers than Bourdain!
Anyway, it seems the longer I'm here in one of the many less exotic restaurant blessed areas of Japan the bigger my circle of fabulous foreign foodie friends. I feel really lucky to know all these people from far-flung food cultures taking on the challenge of cooking the food they love with the ingredients they have.
And then I realised I'm not holding up my end of the fabulous foreign foodie friend bargain. Seems a lot of people haven't discovered the wonder that is damper yet. And so: damper.
At it's simplest it's just flour, (1 cup) water, (1/4 cup) baking powder (a bit) and salt (a pinch). It's campfire bread. It's camping under the stars bread. You can cook it in a dutch oven, wound around a stick or just make a hollow in the ashes, through the dough in and pile more ash on top. Scrape the ash off, tap the damper, when it sounds hollow it's done, flick off the ash, rip it open and eat. Yummmmmm... If you're feeling fancy you can serve it with butter, honey, golden syrup, jam or use it to sop up stew or soup. Yummmm.
Ahhh, fabulous foreign foodie friend balance restored I can await my next culinary epiphany with a clean conscious...