Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A US$3.50 Dinner for Two

A Simple Chinese Repast: Click on Images for fullsize and Details.





It sure is comforting in these inflationary times to know that a nutritious dinner for two can cost only US$3.50. In Singapore, the Teochew Chinese [a dialect group from Guangdong] are famous for their Rice Gruel meal accompanied by a choice of dozens of small dishes. The accompanying dishes could be something as simple as boiled peanuts or tofu cakes, to dishes like braised duck or steamed Flower crabs. If you stick to the simple stuff, a Teochew porridge dinner for two, even in big-city Singapore costs less than the price of a Big Mac. My meal for two persons downing 3 bowls of rice gruel each @ 20 cents a bowl ( above pictures of the 3 dishes, and a bowl of rice gruel) was a delicious and healthy meal that cost me just US$3.50 at the current exchange rate. The dishes are (from second top picture):
(1) Minced pork with black beans, (2)boiled Silver Fish with lime and fresh-cut red peppers (3) Salted Mustard Greens. (BTW, the rice gruel and Salted Mustard Greens remind me of the grits and collard greens of the South).
Having a Teochew porridge meal can be a Zen-like experience. Restraint and minimalism is the essence of it. Definitely not the gulping down of huge quantities of food in quick time. As you slowly put very small portions of the food into your mouth alternating with spoonfuls of the bland rice gruel, you fully sense every nuance of the complex of tastes that each dish is made up of. With every Silver Fish [there are at least 100 fish on the plate above], every shred of Salted Mustard Green and every bit of Minced Pork you pick, you begin to appreciate how lucky you are to be able to have such a meal. Much more than if you were having 1/2 a pound of Prime Rib. And such a healthy meal too! Having Teochew porridge for lunch and dinner every day is a sure way to lose weight. In "The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted" the authors T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell extol the virtues of a Chinese diet. And meals such as the one here are typical of the Chinese diet. And so,

Three bowls of Rice Gruel,

A steaming cup of tea,

At peace with the World,

Life is good to me.

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