"Hodgepodge: a jumble, a heterogenous mixture" Merriam-Webster Dictionary
"a confused mixture, a hotchpotch" Oxford Languages
I was looking for a new word or phrase for one of my oddments posts, and found hodgepodge which sounded vaguely foody as well. And so it is for when I started looking for pictures the first thing that came up was Novia Scotia hodge podge - they tend to separate the two parts of the word there.
This is it and doesn't it look beautiful. It's a kind of chowder made with all the 'new' vegetables of spring - mostly kept with the skin on.
They think that the name comes from Old French - hochepot - which is a French kind of stew - shown below on the left. Not at all the same thing as the light spring dish shown here, but it certainly fits into this definition:
"You can find 'hodge podge' all over the world. It means using whatever ingredients are available to make a soup or stew. " Bacon is Magic
And indeed it is found all over the world even with sort of the same name - there is Lancashire hot pot and Chinese hot pot for starters. And coincidentally the June Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine has a section on Asian hot pots. Below are samples of the French hochepot, the English and the Chinese:
But back to Nova Scotia and the origins of their own particular version. It was brought there by the 17th century French settlers of the Eastern seaboard of Canada - the Acadians - an ethnic group that still exists, both there and down south in the USA as the Cajuns. Originally it seems they came from the West of France in the region called the Vendée. I confess to being a little confused though because, without looking much into it, the classic French hochepot seems to be Flemish - North-eastern French. And incidentally the 'hoche' part of the word does not mean 'hot'. It comes from the verb 'hocher' which means 'to shake'. So put your mix into a pot, shake it up and cook. According to the Bacon is Magic website "The recipe for hodge podge in Nova Scotia is farm fresh vegetables in butter and cream." And small ones at that. And like all of these things everyone has an idea of what it should be. These days though people experiment and add things like bacon or fish.
You learn something every day and coincidence is everywhere.
What is a tagliapuntarelle? Well according to Rachel Roddy it's"
"A 10cm x 10cm wooden square with a large hole crossed with wire strings: it could be a tiny harp if it didn’t also have another set of 12 strings that cross the first, forming a mesh. Even so, it can be strummed with a long nail, the basic strum audible, if you get in close. Its actual purpose is for slicing puntarelle, the inner tubes of a variety of chicory called cicoria di catalogna or cicoria asparago (asparagus chicory)."
It's a Lazio - so Roman - thing - that kind of chicory is too - and I'm guessing you won't be able to find one here, although she does say that she knows people who have made their own. But:
"it is a fantastically satisfying tool, the crisp tubes of chicory cutting like butter into thin strips, or, if you want to keep the tips intact, puntarelle octopi! And it isn’t only for puntarelle: celery, courgettes and red pepper work on this tool, too; large vegetables turned into fat strings in two musical seconds." Rachel Roddy
Of course you can also use a knife, or maybe a food processor too, but isn't it wonderful that something so simple, and homely can still exist out there in the world. Maybe the equivalent here would be a spiraliser - which I still have to acquire I have to say. And isn't it wonderful how little tools like this exist in every country? Well, off the top of my head I cannot think of anything specifically English or Australian, but I'm sure there is something. And there are certainly things in France - a mouli for a start.
Rachel Roddy's charming little introduction to the tool is followed by a recipe: Spaghetti with asparagus, butter and lemon:
"if the strips are wilted down in oil and given plenty of butter and lemon zest, they pair so well with spaghetti, for what is a two-tone joy and maybe my favourite recipe so far this year." Rachel Roddy
As springlike as the Novia Scotia Hodge Podge, which is a little sad for me as we have only just started winter. Although today on my walk I came across a Cootamundra wattle just in bloom, and smelling divine. Winter in Melbourne has always been a sort of false spring to me, because the sky is often blue, and the weather bearably mild, and all the wattles are in bloom, followed by the cherry and plum blossom. Spring is just wet and cold!
I might try this recipe once the home-grown asparagus arrives in spring. You can get asparagus now, but it comes from Mexico.
Cocktails from kitchen scraps
I know virtually nothing about cocktails. They are not my thing. However, an article in this weekend's AFR luxury magazine caught my eye. To those in the know you may know this man - Jai Lyons who runs three Barangaroo, Sydney cocktail bars. I assume he is well known. He and his team are into sustainability in a big way. They make all their own syrups, and virtually of the liqueurs as well. Moreover kitchen waste from nearby classy restaurants are also used. Take the one on the right in the picture above Not Your Average Pornstar, which is a kind of Martini. It takes two days to make:
"We make a passionfruit and vanilla whey, and a passionfruit and prosecco foam, and then a marigold and vanilla syrup ... It's all from waste." Jai Lyons
The other two cocktails pictured above are Ciao Georgia and Native Old Fashioned. All of them will set you back between $22 and $24 a pop. Is that expensive for a cocktail? I have no idea. Maybe it's not.
He also mentioned:
"a feta-washed rum cocktail with apple, marjoram and rhubarb. “The feta is chosen because it’s so savoury and umami – we’ve taken the salty element out and the cheese gives a rich mouthfeel.”
All so pretentious isn't it? Well maybe not. Which reminds me of another article I noted down a while back from The Guardian. The sub-heading for the article by Tim Dowling was:
"An espresso martini with parmesan has gone viral – part of a wider trend including blue cheese negronis and a stilton-washed gin. Are any of them any good?"
Viral in this instance means 328 million views on TikTok (posted by 'a man called Jordan Hughes'.) So the Wine Enthusiast website tried it - and loved it - prepare for more pretentious wine type descriptions:
"On the nose, I got mostly salty cheese, but the first sip was surprisingly smooth and reminiscent of a creamy, cold-brew coffee with just a subtle sweetness. The cheese also landed a hint of nutmeg on the palate, not the overwhelming cheesiness I was expecting. Instead, the combination of cheese and coffee was a beautiful balance of sweet, salty, sour, umami and bitter notes. The blood orange-wiped rim—to which more grated Parmigiano Reggiano was attached—helped bring out the citrus and bitter notes in the coffee." Arielle Weg.
And just to illustrate one of the things that I'm always banging on about the author then became nostalgic:
"I recalled cozy Sunday mornings sipping iced coffee and eating an egg and cheese on a bagel. Coffee and cheese are already in my regular food rotation, and I hadn’t even noticed it. No wonder the combo works so well."
So what does Tim Dowling think of this trend? Not quite the same as Arielle Weg:
"It looks wrong, it feels wrong and it tastes wrong, even if it’s not quite as revolting as you might think."
Such a world of difference of opinion. What a wonderful species the human is that it can include such differing tastes, although really it should come as no surprise, because after all there are numerous foods that some people love and others hate - anchovies, coriander, avocado ...
Tim Dowling goes on to test some other cheesy cocktails - Blue cheese negroni; Bubbles and silk; 'a liquid Waldorf' and a burrata breakfast martini. And I have to say they all sound revolting. Now admittedly he was making them, not a specialist cocktail blender but he was definitely not a fan, explaining the trend thus:
"Simply put, you can infuse any alcohol with fat – butter, bacon, sesame oil – thereby leaving behind certain flavour compounds. If you are so minded, you can do this with cheese."
Speaking of cheese, the Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine had a brief mention of baked brie, with instructions in its June issue in a section on various world 'tips and tricks'. For France they chose baked brie:
"Create your own French-inspired fondue in minutes by drizzling honey on baked brie, then sprinkling it with thyme sprigs. Arrange torn baguette pieces, crackers or apple slices around the brie and serve while still warm and glossy."
Which made me think that baked brie seems to be a thing these days, so I must look into it more. Why would you though? Brie is wonderful as it is.
Woolworths did have another faintly intriguing thing if you are into all things Japanese however. You can see the instructions in the picture, although they seem to have forgotten the green things - wasabi peas? And where are the pretzels? Anyway might be worth doing if Japanese appeals.
And yes, I have just acquired the current Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine so will be doing a comparative post to the one I did on the Coles Magazine.