The Ascending Spice

Three words: Wa Sa Bi!

How weird is that stuff?

I’ve been getting into Sushi lately, and it’s mostly down to one thing: WaSaBi! If you’ve never tried it before, stop reading this now, pop out to your local asian grocery store (Coles and Woolies will probably have it, but this way you’ll feel way oriental), buy a tube and just suck in its juicy goodness.

Are you back? Whoa!!!! Did that blow your mind or what? It’s not its spiciness that has me hooked, it’s what that spiciness does. It burns just like chilli, but it burns up. If you bight into a chilli (say, if because your punk of a brother told you that it was just like a baby carrot), then the burning goes down your throat, and that’s kind of nice (if you happen to like that sort of thing) but gets kind of mundane. I mean, of coarse it burns DOWN your throat, everything goes DOWN your throat, bolus stimulates your faucial arches, hello swallow reflex, down we go. The food goes down, the burning goes down. Are you with me? But Wasabi! It burns up. Somehow, like some out-of-body experience the burning separates from the Wasabi, so when the Wasabi heads south, the sensation heads north and ends up in your nose. It sits there and gets stronger and stronger until you think your head is going to melt like that guy at the end of the Indiana Jones movie who drinks from the wrong Holy Grail, just when you think that’s going to happen, it goes away and you have to explain to your friends why you just burst into tears.

From my extensive research on the topic (ie reading the packet) I have discovered some fun facts about the green ascending spice. And I shall leave them with you.

Stay cool my peeps.

Fun facts about Wasabi (some I got from the packet, some I made up myself):

  • Some people call it Japanese Horseradish
  • “S&B (R) Prepared WASABI in a tube” As my product is called, rather humourously reads just like a sentence
  • Wasabi contains Colour (100), (102), and my personal favourite, (133)
  • ‘Oriental Merchant’, the importer of S&B Wasabi has a “Hotline” – it’s 1800 806 842, but that’s not the point: A hotline! get it?
  • S&B Foods can be found at 18-6, Nihonbashi Kabuto-cho, Chuo-Ku, Tokyo
  • A cryptic crossword clue for Wasabi could be: “Sushi ingredient was a bit spicy within (6).” or “I swab a confused hot sauce (6).”. Try it on your nan.



The Nectar of the Bean

Regulars here at (both of you) should be well aware of our fondness for tea. It has had no less than two entries on its lonesome and various other mentions throughout. So, one could be forgiven for thinking that this trend did not apply to other hot beverages. In actual fact, there is another hot drink which surpasses tea in so much as how much we like it. Can you guess what it might be? Two uni students and a teacher?

Yes, its coffee. Gad AND/OR zooks! How we love our coffee! We always have four varieties, which can be made up on one of our five machines. We drink it any time of the day or night. We just can’t get enough of the nectar of the bean.

Here’s our inventory:

  • Dan’s expensive stuff

  • The decaf for late night jaunts

  • Tom’s cheap stuff

  • The instant stuff (a necessary evil)

And the machines:

  • A kettle

  • A plunger

  • A drip style percolator

  • A large stove-top espresso pot

  • A small stove-top espresso pot

  • A cheap Breville Espresso/Cappuccino machine

At present the drip-style percolator is broken, (thanks to my putting the hot jug under a cold tap). A tragedy, yes, but one that opened the doors of opportunity in this place. The plunger, which had hitherto only been used once or twice got its chance to shine. And struth, how it shone. I had never really gotten into plunger coffee before – my own loss. Perhaps I wasn’t making it properly. And so, by way of a warning to others, I will finish off with instructions on how to make a perfect cup of plunger coffee.

1. Firstly, boil you jug. Then let it sit. We want the temp to cool down to around ninety degrees celcius (-173ยบ F).

2. Meanwhilst, warm up your pot. Rinse it out with the quasi-boiling water.

3. Put your coffee in. A heaped tablespoon per cup is a good guide.

4. Pour the water over the coffee and stand for 3-4 minutes (The plunger, that is. You can sit down if you want.)

5. Gently lower the plunger. If all was done properly, you should get a nice layer of crema on the surface.

6. Serve as per how you like it.

Now Dan likes to put the milk in first. In coffee speak, this is what we call post-lactum coffee. You can also have pre-lactum coffee and, I suppose, simultaneous-lactum coffee as well, if you were that fussy. Personally, I think the whole thing is just silly and pedantic. Like when people insist that you stir the sugar in a clockwise direction, or squeeze the toothpaste tube from the end, or spell yogurt with an “h”, or fail you on your driving test because you didn’t give the person in the next lane an opportunity to merge into your lane even though it was perfectly obvious that she was turning into a side street anyway. But I digress.

Plunger coffee has more caffeine than espresso-made coffee (except decaf) because the caffeine needs longer contact with the water to come out. I think there’s something in that for all of us.

Good night.