Another visual doesn’t nurture your senses of taste and smell. It doesn’t fill your heart with warm fuzziness or prickle your tongue – nor does it capture the physical sensation of biting through a crisp pie crust or ice-cream slowly melting in your mouth. Is there a possibility we miss out on these sensations, feelings on the hunt for ‘the look’.
Words, Recipe and Photography by SOFIA HELLSTEN.
We have food flashing by in our feeds, in a more or less constant stream. We lean back to look. Look at more or less appetizing photos and videos of food. Still life and sourdoughs. Side by side with cooking shows and pasta making. Now, something in this constant feed (pun intended) of never-ending visuals of food feels a little like eating sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month straight. Not that I don’t love sandwiches – I do – but there comes the point when you want to feel something else.
Food has always been visual, but lately, maybe too much so? This might be contradictory coming from someone who’s a favorite object to photograph is precisely that. However, somewhere between aiming for that perfect shot and sharing a kick-ass breakfast spread, I think we, myself included, have forgotten an essential aspect of food.
Being so focused on looking through a lens or a screen, it is easy to lose the connection to the range of sensations that food can spark. The emotions connected to this. Another visual doesn’t nurture your senses of taste and smell. It doesn’t fill your heart with warm fuzziness or prickle your tongue – nor does it capture the physical sensation of biting through a crisp pie crust or ice-cream slowly melting in your mouth. Is there a possibility we miss out on these sensations, feelings on the hunt for ”the look”?
Sitting down to write this, I thought about how the place I’ve felt the most eating, is Japan. About how much I appreciate that at any random ramen place you enter, they will ask you if you want your noodles soft, medium, or chewy. How your preferred choice of rice will depend not only on flavor but also on stickiness and how soft or hard the variety is. The point is, the only difference between a boiled egg or the lately hyped onsen-tamago is the texture, how it feels when you eat it.
Having stated the above, the recipe on the following page might not be a visual crowd-pleaser (and it’s probably not something that you would stop your scrolling for). However, similar to many other Japanese dishes, this is a dish you need to feel. A lot of the pleasure in eating it is the sensation in your mouth. Warm, soft, and somewhere between a warm broth and scrambled eggs. Very much a dish you need to feel. ☮
"A lot of the pleasure in eating it is the sensation in your mouth. Warm, soft, and somewhere between a warm broth and scrambled eggs. Very much a dish you need to feel."
CHAWANMUSHI with CHANTERELLES
400 ml water (boiled down to ca 200 ml)
8 g konbu 5-6g katsuobushi flakes 30 g chanterelles 1 tsp soy sauce 2-3 pinches salt 5 g chanterelles 1 egg
Simmer the konbu and chanterelles in water for approximately 20 minutes. Pick out the konbu and mushrooms.
Add the katsuobushi flakes to the hot water, let simmer for up to 1 min before straining through a sieve or cloth. You should now have approximately 200 ml dashi. Add salt and soy sauce, taste for saltiness. Set aside the dashi to cool.
Rip the remaining 5 g of chanterelles into bite sized pieces and set aside. When cool, gently whisk together the egg and 200 ml of dashi – be careful not to overmix. Strain the mixture through a sieve to get a silky smooth mixture.
Pour into two oven safe cups, add fresh chanterelles and place the cups into a steam basket.Steam for 12 min on low heat. Remove from steam and let cool slightly before eating.
Sofia Hellsten, part cookbook author and photographer, and part Creative Director at podcast platform Acast, has a wonderful and weird relationship to Japan. Having spent a lot of time living (and eating) in the country she has inevitably become an aficionado – so much that she wrote a book on the topic.“The Japanese Table – Small Plates for Simple Meals” has not only been featured in New York Times but also celebrated by Drew Barrymore. But more importantly, it is an easy way for anyone to start introducing Japanese cooking into their everyday life in a simple and inspiring fashion, mixing recipes with memories. When not exploring Japan, you find Sofia in her Stockholm kitchen prepping brunch, drinking tea or pickling greens.