Documentation of the workshop was made to capture a quick / iterative process as well as the generative conditions of eating and sharing a meal. Several time laps videos were made, documenting the serving and eating of each participants altered recipe.
Audio documentation / recordings were made during the recipe analysis, cooking process, eating / reviewing modifications segment. Though we still have to process the audio a conversational diagram was made.
Below is the first iterations of a knowledge map made during the contextual research and production phase of the heirloom recipe modification.
Written Reflection / Documentation — Jesse Ulmer
Hierloom Recipie_Jesse Ulmer– PDF DOWNLOAD
Why did I join this workshop? This was the first question that Matt and Brooke posed to our group. I love food and cooking because it is an excellent vehicle for understanding different cultures. I was in Cape Town, South Africa, last year, and one of my favorite experiences was sampling different types of Biltong, the beef jerky of South Africa. Learning about Biltong provides insight into the history of the Dutch in South Africa as well as the impact of climate and technology on food. The Dutch brought Biltong recipes with them to South Africa from Europe. Curing meat preserves it and makes it more transportable, which is very useful in a hot climate with lots of insects and no refrigeration. This led me to further reflect on the virtues and historical usefulness of beef jerky on the American frontier, a context with similar restraints that produced a similar solution. These and other reflections have lead me to conclude that there is always a cultural or historical narrative embedded in the preparation and consumption of food, narratives that exist on multiple levels simultaneously—individual, familial, cultural, environmental, historical, social, political, economic.
It all had to do with my thinking about the notion of the “heirloom recipe.” When we first convened as a workshop group, Matt and Brooke, our leaders, instructed us to acquire an heirloom recipe. A curious metaphor, I thought. To me, the notion of an heirloom primarily invokes the image of family. Whenever we gather as a family in Minnesota, there’s always a bowl of delicious, beautiful, bright red salsa next to a big bowl of crisp, white corn chips waiting for us upon arrival. Mom keeps an ever-vigilant eye on those bowls throughout the duration of our stay, always topping them up, never letting them get below half a tank. Everyone eats chips and salsa casually, an ongoing affair, like conversation. Sometimes it is partnered with large blocks of cheese and olives. We munch all day, like cows grazing in a pasture.
My heirloom recipe is salsa. I grew up in Minnesota, and salsa is not usually considered a part of the Minnesotan culinary imagination. One rather tends to think of Scandinavian foods like lefse, a traditional Norwegian flatbread made from potatoes. Or lutefisk, a rather disgusting Finnish dish made of white fish and lye. Then there’s the ubiquitous Swedish meatball. Sometimes all three of these dishes are served together, a plate that betrays Minnesota’s deep Nordic roots. If one wants to avoid thinking of Western European traditions and focus on Native American fare, the primary signifier for Minnesota is wild rice served with either deer, bison, or some form of fowl (and of course the “three sisters” of Native American gastronomy: corn, beans, and squash). And though I never tire of telling people (particularly those ignorant bastards from the coasts) that Minnesota is part of the upper Great Plains, Midwestern stereotypes of meat and potatoes (and all things bland) unfortunately tend to apply to Minnesota. Given all this, salsa, seems an odd choice.
Or is it?
Heirlooms can also connote culture, often historical. Though most tend to image Minnesota as the Great White North (the land of white Caucasians of Northern European extract), Minnesota is more diverse than this stereotype suggests. Minnesota actually includes a sizable Mexican population. The 2000 census recorded 41,600 Mexican-born people in Minnesota, and local estimates now put it at around 200,000. According to Ramiro Hernandez, a Mexican-born Minneapolis businessman, “They call Minneapolis the new Axochiapan. Ninety percent of the population there has people over here. Kids come here as soon as they come of age” (New York Times). More evidence for the notion of Minnesota as little Mexico is the origin of my heirloom salsa recipe—it was given to my Dad by an old Mexican woman who owned and operated a Mexican restaurant in Bismarck, North Dakota. All this suggests that it might only take a few generations for salsa to become as Minnesotan as lefse and lutefisk.
Salsa is interesting in the sense that it is hardly ever the primary dish. I’m sure this varies by culture, but my family eats it either as a starter or as a side to some other dish; occasionally, it constitutes an ingredient. A strong feature of salsa, then, is the tendency to combine it with other things. In this sense, salsa is, excuse the pun, excellent food for thought when it comes to thinking about the notion of hybridity. Salsa in many ways relies on hybridity for its consumption.
The hybridity of salsa manifested in our workshop. Besides eating salsa with chips, Matt cooked us his heirloom recipe, a Dutch Baby, which resembles an egg soufflé topped with fruit and sugar. In the spirit of hybridity, Matt withheld the fruit and sugar and instead melted cheese and topped it with my heirloom salsa. Pennsylvania Dutch (via Alaska) meets Minnesota Mexican (via North Dakota) in the Arabian Peninsula. It was hybrid, delicious, and thought provoking.
So what? We spent an intense week cooking and eating and all the related activities, like shopping, that these two makings imply. What does it all add up to? Unfortunately, there is no way I can adequately capture the rich experience of the past week, for cultural studies teaches us that there is much matter that is lost in the re-presentation of experience and reality through language (or art), but I can offer a thought or two about what I learned about hybridity through this workshop. First, although I have serious reservations about the ill effects of over-hybridization in a number of domains, including the social, political, and cultural, hybridity in the art of cooking and eating can be very stimulating and positive, and it can be experienced in a tangible, concrete, immediate, gut-level way. What better way to understand hybridity than to taste it? The second thing I learned is that hybridity in the process of making not only has the capacity to create great tasting food, but it can also function as a powerful catalyst for conversation and thought. Our cooking and eating naturally gave rise to a collective Socratic dialogue, an ongoing, dynamic, largely inquiry-based conversation that reached far and wide but always returned to cooking and eating. This pattern suggested to me that, ultimately, cooking and eating is much more than the sum of its parts, particularly in the context of hybridity. Everyone that contributed to the dialogue—both gastronomical and intellectual—had something different to offer, creating a dynamic map of diverse perspectives. So what is my thought here? For me, the experience of the workshop tended to follow an interesting pattern: difference generated hybridity and hybridity generated learning. And as we all know, learning generates growth.
Pukki Biryani Traditional — Ralston Pereira
Biryani is derived from the Farsi word ‘Birian’. Based on the name, and cooking style (Dum), one can conclude that the dish originated in Persia and/or Arabia. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India..
Besides the historical facts, the story gets little fuzzy with legends.
According to one legend, Mumtaz Mahal (the beauty who sleeps in Taj Mahal) concocted this dish as a “complete meal” to feed the army. Yet, some say the dish really originated in West Asia. The Nomads would burry an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and there was the Biryani.
What is Biryani?
Biryani is derived from the Persian word ‘Birian’. In Farsi, Birian means ‘Fried before Cooking’. In the olden days, rice was fried (without washing) in Ghee (Clarified butter). It did two things: 1. It gave the rice a nutty flavor 2. It burned the outside starch layer gelatinizing it. After the rice is stir-fried, it was boiled in water with spices till half cooked.
In an earthen pot called Handi, the rice and meat are layered, bottom and top layer are always rice. An interlayer of some condiments may be introduced between the meat and the rice. Cardamom, Mace, Screwpine essence, rose water may be added to give flowery and herbal aroma. The Handi is sealed and put on the coal embers to cook. For Calicut Biryani, the Handi is placed on the embers produced by coconut shell. The seal is broken only when ready to serve.
Types of Meat Biryani
There are two basic types of Biryani, namely; Kutchi (raw) Biryani, and Pukki (cooked) Biryani. Kutchi Biryani does not meet the strict meaning of Biran in Farsi meaning ‘Fried before Cooking’; while Pukki Biryani comes close. For Kutchi Biryani, raw marinated meat is layered with raw rice. For Pukki Biryani, cooked meat and cooked rice are layered and put in Handi for the finish.
My Current version Of the Biryani is a Pukki Biryani
Cooking Method for Spicy Chicken Biryani
Good side dishes that go well with the Biryani
Some Medicinal benefits of the ingredients used in the dish