Last week we attended what we anticipated was going to be an interesting, thought provoking talk on nutrition and health presented by a so called cutting edge western medicine doctor in the areas of neurology and nutrition. Among the attendees, were some 600 odd affluent, professional and educated members of the general public. All of these people had eagerly signed up to hear the speaker’s views on nutrition and health. Sounded pretty cool, huh?
Now let me state something here first. We will never present our ideas on health, science and nutrition on this blog as anything other than what is our own opinion that is based on some level of education (which is clearly stated here) and our own personal experience. We don’t condone or support any particular health views on this blog, rather share with you our personal choices and experiences and hope that you will make positive choices about healthy eating and living based on all the information you accumulate from your own learning and experience.
So back to that talk.
As we eagerly settled into our seats, the speaker proceeded to present a variety of theories, some of which may be perceived as quackery by modern western medicine, albeit based on ancient learnings and eastern teachings – alas, a few of those theories I by and large am inclined to support for my own personal reasons. However that’s where it stopped for me and take note – a number of quite alarming claims were made by the presenter that I don’t agree with, however this is not something I wish to discuss here. My point to this story, is that the scientist in me wanted to hear substantial facts and data on every claim that was made that evening. I mean, if you tell me the water pipe leaked in my apartment wall cavity (which it did), I’m going to ask ‘why’ and ‘how’. Few people will believe what you tell them if you don’t back it up with the ‘why’, that’s just the nature of human enquiry.
But what really got to me about the presentation that night, was not so much the claims but the shameless tactics that the speaker employed to convince her applauding audience of her credibility. Not only did she fail to provide factual evidence to substantiate her claims (sure, the words ‘studies’ and ‘evidence’ were vaguely alluded to) but this seemingly educated, professional and intelligent human being resorted to tactics that Australian politicians tend to perfect around election time. Tactics including fear mongering and discrediting your opponent.
And what disappointed me about all of this is the feeling that we’re not going to win the battle against childhood obesity, poor gut health and other first world diseases whilst ‘experts’ are so busy arguing against one another; when grown adults behave more poorly than school yard children by employing tactics of ‘he’s wrong, therefore I’m right’ and ‘that person doesn’t support or agree with my views therefore her only motivation must be money.’ What saddened me is that professionals from all schools of thought who’ve invested valuable resources time and time again fail to come together and collaborate with a common goal to find a solution.
So Mrs Speaker, I hate to tell you this but money makes the world go round, we all have to feed our kids and pay our bills, and I don’t see you doing your job for free either. Please don’t claim to know or judge another person’s motivation because their opinion is different to yours and they may be making a living out of a job that may well also be their passion. Put your prejudices and your fear tactics aside and focus on a positive solution.
Ok, rant over. I’m glad to have that off my chest. Perhaps you think I am overly sensitive, but it frustrates me when the real need is forgotten amongst battles of ego, agenda and power plays. So, back to the main order of the day – dinner. This black rice risotto really came to life when we were very fortunate to be able to bring back some black rice and black garlic on a recent trip to Japan (yes, fully declared and cleared by AQIS) – and we’ve been saving it to share with you for when the weather really turned nice and cool.
One week out from Winter, now is the time to get cooking this baby! Loaded with antioxidants and fibre, you might start to see a little more hype around this ancient grain these days but it’s been used widely in Asian cultures for well, a long time now. Coupled with black garlic (think caramelised flavours) and beautiful wild mushrooms, this recipe is well worth the effort. Kind of an Asian twist on a traditional Italian risotto.
Black rice risotto
- 1& ½ cups black rice
- 1 clove black garlic, smashed in a mortar and pestle
- 2 cloves regular garlic, smashed in a mortar and pestle or crushed in a garlic press
- 40g dried porcini and oyster mushrooms, presoaked in water
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 1-2 sticks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 & ½ L vegetable stock
- 1 glass white wine (such as sav blanc)
- pecorino, grated
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
This recipe does require the rice to cook for about 1 and ½ hours – yeah, sorry, this is the slow food movement after all. But if you want to save time, you could try soaking the rice in water for at least 8 hours and you might save yourself about 30 minutes.
Gently fry off the garlic and celery in a splash of olive oil over a low-medium heat. Turn up the heat and add your rice. Stir for a minute or two, then add the wine. A lovely aroma will rise from the pot as the alcohol evaporates off. Once most of the liquid has evaporated off, add the fresh thyme and your first ladle of stock. Turn the heat back to medium, and keep stirring regularly.
The trick to a really good risotto is to stand there and constantly stir, stir, stir. You should add a ladleful of stock, stir, watch it evaporate off (as you stir) and then add the next ladle. And so on. This is where it takes time. You need to continue this process for about an hour from when you first added the rice. After an hour, you can start to stir through the mushrooms, and keep on adding that stock. 30 minutes later, the risotto will be done. You will know the rice is ready when it is nice and soft on the inside of the grain, but unlike a traditional Arborio risotto, black rice will retain it’s outer integrity, with a slight crunch and a perfectly intact grain.
Before you serve it up, stir through some parmesan or pecorino cheese, allow to sit for 2 minutes, then serve up with another sprinkling of cheese on top and some extra fresh thyme.
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