Noilly Prattle: Shiva in the Kitchen

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Shiva in the Kitchen

Shiva Nataraja the cosmic dancer
In Hindu mythology the god Shiva Nataraja is the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for the process of creation.

Well, it seems that Shiva had a hand in the kitchen today. With the intense heat and humidity of high summer in Japan we don't have much appetite for hot food and are always looking for new ways to prepare cold dishes. We decided to make an old favorite, a spicy cold tomato and cucumber gazpacho soup for dinner and went to the market and bought the necessary ingredients. This recipe requires no cooking and is made entirely in a blender. So we took out the blender and gathered the ingredients including tomato juice.

I unscrewed the tomato juice cap and poured half the required amount to form a liquid base for blending the raw cucumber, tomato, onion, green pepper, celery, etc. When I turned on the blender it started making an uncharacteristic banging sound. I thought that maybe the cucumbers were hard to blend or the base housing the blade wasn't screwed on properly and causing the noise. I stopped the blender and poured the contents into a glass bowl, adjusted and re-screwed the base of the blender. When I continued with the remainder of the ingredients the blender sounded normal.

When the blending was finished we looked for the tomato juice cap, but it was nowhere to be found. Then the possible source of the banging in the blender occurred to me and we checked the soup and found, first of all, small bits of something white floating on the surface, a sampling bitten into revealed that it was hard and gritty, suspiciously like plastic. A ladling soon pulled up a sizable chunk of the cap. Mystery solved, soup destroyed and thrown out.

But Lord Shiva doesn't destroy without creating anew. So, we started thinking (a little desperately) about what was left in the refrigerator. We still had half the tomato juice capped with saran and a rubber band. We had some carrots, onions, green pepper, Spanish olives..... Without measuring we added these ingredients raw bit by bit and sampled the taste as we went. Spicing was added at random and as the spirit moved: some salt, rice wine vinegar, sweet Noilly Prat vermouth, garlic, even some Thai Basil—sampling and tasting as we went. Then we covered the glass baking dish and chilled the soup. We ended up with a Carrot Gazpacho with a hint of anise imparted by the Thai Basil. Should be delicious after a good stiff Martini!

If you'd like to try it just get creative and add stuff as the spirit moves you. You might be surprised!

Paraphrasing an old saw, Shiva doesn't close a window, but he opens a door. Now we have a new addition to our cold summer dishes repertoire.  

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