MISSION-ROOM 41

The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag, which had been handed to me. Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items. There were three Pak Choi and one splendid white Mooli.   It was lunchtime when I made my visit to the care home, carrying this abundantly overflowing bag.  In my spare hand I held a pack of raspberries, a treat.  I got curious looks from the care staff and some polite smiles.   I was on a visiting mission. I knocked on the door of room 41.

© Elegant Veg

She immediately wanted to know what I was carrying. I got her to feel through the foliage and the thin stalks. Still not sure, I encouraged her to nibble at a little of a leaf. Yes, it tasted of something but what?  She sniffed the green bunch and stroked the stalks.  Realisation; her mother used to grow this and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it with meat and gravy.  She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour.   Did the Mooli have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.  What about the other one, the Pak Choi?  She was thinking and asking questions while I gave my ideas for preparing the two vegetables.

© Our Yellow Beetroot.  Pak Choi it is not.

We shared savoury and sweet  recipe ideas  for the best part of an hour, and the time passed pleasantly and quickly. The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of home made cakes; puddings; jam; outings with an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking the raspberries, in times long past.

On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery I was carrying.  One, a Bulgarian lady did not know Pak Choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her.  A local carer had no idea about any of it.  A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the Mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the other little vegetable (the Pak Choi) the same name she knew it by.

 

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15 thoughts on “MISSION-ROOM 41

    • Hi Gill,

      The visitee was a local person with a form of dementia. In her time she had lived abroad. I knew her when she lived perfectly independently and I had been fortunate enough to enjoy some of her own culinary skills. By local standards, for a person of her generation, she was quite eclectic in her tastes.

      There were other thought triggers, which made for fascinating insights, which I might post about.

      Thanks for the question.

    • Pak Choi is very mild the stalks are crunchy, AnneMarie. It can be used roughly chopped in a salad and like lettuce, can benefit from salad dressings.

      Our favourite way of preparing Pak Choi is to throw it into a frying pan that has already had crushed or chopped garlic frying in a shallow base of olive oil, so heat needs to be low and controlled; I sometimes add a bit of chopped ginger to the garlic in the pan. This infuses the oil with the flavours. The PC can either have leaves separated, do use the inner as well, or, slice down the centre of each one, and once more making quarters. Throw the PC into the pan and toss it in the flavoured oil. You don’t want the leaves to wilt. Serve the PC crunchy and warm with the bits of garlic and ginger. It is best prepared last and then devoured asap.

      The Mooli is like a huge radish and adds flavour to things.

      Other leaves have flavours that are good for soups, but as garden plants they are aggressive growers and are best provided with a field all of their own. Companies like Knorr benefit from them.

      xxxx

    • Hello Bushka,

      Visits on my own were often an unknown quantity, occasionally challenging, generally though, very interesting when a memory or two were triggered. 🙂

  1. Interesting post… both because of the language, and the aspect of memory. I often wonder about the reliability of memory when it comes to taste. There are so many possibilities of change when it comes to taste…

    • Super to hear from you Shimon, how are you? Thank you for your observations.

      Taste is a curious thing. My mother once ate a meal I prepared and to my total amazement told me, while she was happily tucking in to the plate of food, that the flavouring of it was just like her mother made. I never knew my maternal grandmother, she died long before I was born. While memory, mine, was fresh, I thought about what I had used in creating the dish and the processes, then wrote it all down. I did recreate the flavour equally as successfully on another occasion for my mother. It was lovely to see her innate pleasure, and to confirm for me that it did not need to be a one-off serendipitous nosh.

      xx

    • I think it validates the song Mr F….. “Sweet, sweet the memories you gave me………memories are made of this”. Valuable validation for ourselves too, whatever variety and shape they take. Xx

  2. What a wonderful post, I did enjoy it, I was thinking what a great article it would make in a paper or magazine. Beautifully written, poetic and moving. Loved the title too, I instantly wanted to know who was in room 41. I loved the way you left it hanging.xxx

  3. Thank you for your lovely comment Snowbird. I hadn’t considered the writing form at all in those terms. I just wanted to convey a sense of the dynamic and atmosphere.

    There were a variety of memory experiences, making for some fascinating meetings, especially interesting now,when I think back on them. Xxx

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