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About Food
About Food

by Juliette de Bairacli Levy

excerpt from Travelers Joy
The true traveler eats simple meals, the sort of foods the nomads carry in their packs.

 One is reluctant to give up long hours of every day to the cooking of heavy meals, when the world outside is shining and beautiful and alluring and always ready to yield new discoveries. In any case it is not possible to cook elaborate meals over a wood fire, and that is the only cooking media of the primitive faraway dwelling unless one cares to use a kerosene stove--an unpleasant heating and cooking companion in the home, and a thing which I avoid.

Contrary to popular belief, big rich meals do not create energy for the consumer. One only has to recall how after a heavy feast, such as at Christmas, one feels cold and lethargic and want to keep close to the blazing Yule log for warmth. Whereas while fasting, one’s energy and mental alertness are at a high pitch. During travel there is always an occasional feast at a tavern, for richer meals combined with entertainment--at the meeting with other travelers and the local people; and always the hope that Gypsy musicians may be found there, the Gypsies with their violins, or guitars, or harps.

The traditional foods of the traveler are also eaten by the Greek shepherds as described in that beautiful classical romance by Longus, Daphnis and Chloe. About the two fair children who grew up to be shepherd and shepherdess of  neighboring flocks, and then became lovers. Their nature foods were fire-baked bread from stone ground flour, goat and sheep cheeses, olives and herbs and the wild berries and orchard fruits plucked fresh from the trees. That diet enables the sheep and goat herders to have the energy to lead their flocks all day long to far pastures up and down the stony and steep mountains in all kinds of weather. Doubtless when flocks are milked the herders drink the fresh milk.

If one lives far from the shops--and the wild and beautiful places of the world mostly are far--then a knowledge of the wild edible plants, fruits, fungi and seaweeds is essential.

Ancient Wheat Recipe, p. 155

Here is an ancient wheat dish. The wheat should be cooked slowly (like rice) in salted water. When well cooked, that is, soft and floury, cover with very hot olive or sesame oil. Immediately break eggs onto the hot oiled wheat. The hot olive oil will cook the eggs and cause them to adhere to the wheat. Serve with sliced green olives, chopped fresh aromatic herbs, garlic and big portions of fresh lettuce. Moisten with fresh milk. Or stale bread can be used as a base. Crumble well, moisten with fresh milk, and add oil and eggs as above. Add finally, plenty of raw, chopped garlic and onions, parsley and herbs.

Wild Spinach Loaf Recipe, p. 160

Here is a wild spinach loaf. Take a pound of wild spinach and steam it in a little salted water, and a teaspoon of oil and vinegar. Garden spinach can be used. Meanwhile make a mixture of stale brown bread bound into a paste with milk and a little flour. Cook two cups of cracked wheat (or lentils) and mix this into the bread and the flour paste already prepared, using milk to bind it. Flavor this mixture with finely crushed coriander or celery seeds. Grease (and add a few drops of vinegar to the grease) some small pans for making individual breads (unless a proper oven is available--then the bread can be made in the usual baking pans). Flour the pans well, and then press into them the bread flour with the cooked wheat or lentil mixture to make a thick lining. Put in the spinach filling. Now cover over with another layer of the bread and flour mixture. Bake slowly until the mixture has hardened into a loaf.

Summer Pudding Recipe, p. 174

To make, take a round stale loaf of wholewheat bread, or a loaf of walnut wheat, the best of all. Cut off the top and bottom in quite thick slices; place the bottom in the base of a pudding basin or a tin jelly mould. Sprinkle the slice lightly with sweet red wine. Cut slices from the loaf and place them side by side, completely lining the basin or mould. Then pile in ripe raw berries several inches deep. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, a  thin drip of pure honey and a little sweet wine. Cover with several slices of bread. Then pile in more berries, several inches deep as before and sprinkle again with sugar and honey. Continue with the layers until the container is well filled. Then cap over with the thick slice of top bread. Moisten with more wine. Cover with a plate and put on heavy weights (stones can be used) to press the pudding. Chill for half a day. Then turn out of the basin.

excerpt from Travelers Joy

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