About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Strange Brew
If I had categories to file my posts in, this one would go into the X-Files.

My wife D's godmother E had her birthday recently and we went over to her place to give her birthday wishes. We sat, had a drink and caught up. As is Polish custom, E had prepared a table for us and after a chat we repaired there to eat. There were dips, cold cuts, pickled cucumbers and breaded prawns. The prawns were interesting, they were a commercial variety and the bread coating was thicker than the prawn.

I picked up a pickled cucumber and E looked at me.

"Sorry I don't have fermented cucumber for you."

"That's alright."

In Polish households preserving is a big thing. Every year jars and jars of fruits and vegetables are put up for the coming year. Sour cherries, plums, peaches, mushrooms, tomatoes and above all else, cucumbers. It is the pride of every Polish house to be able to offer their own fermented cucumbers. There are two traditional methods to preserve cucumbers, pickling and fermenting, Eastern Europeans prefer fermenting theirs. The fermenting yeast forms a sourness that many find pleasing. It is a simple process that consists of just cucumbers, water, salt, garlic and dill which is sealed in a jar and left to ferment. After a few days the water turns cloudy as the fermentation gets underway. Some people love new season cucumbers with just a few days in the jar as they still have a good crunch with a faint hint of sourness, but they will easily keep for a year or more.

E continued her story.

"You see I had to give mine away."

"Why's that?"

"My friend asked me for them, you see her son is in hospital."

"That's no good, what happened?"

"Nobody knows, he just got sicker and sicker until he finished up in hospital. The doctors ran all sorts of tests, but couldn't find out what was wrong with him, other than he had some sort of infection, and he was getting worse and worse. The doctors were trying everything they could, until one day a doctor told my friend to expect the worst, maybe her son had a week to live. She was frantic, everything that could be done had been done, but the infection was still raging in his body. My friend decided to try and give him fermented cucumber juice (the liquid that's leftover in the jar). Because her son couldn't swallow, she gave him drop by drop on his lips. After a few days the doctors noticed some improvement in his condition, one doctor told her that whatever it was that she was doing, to keep on doing it. After a few weeks her son was able to get out of bed, but only in a wheelchair. Because she was giving him the juice everyday, she ran out and she called on all her friends to help her and give their fermented cucumbers for her son. I had six jars and gladly gave them to her."

It's an amazing story that I'm relating to you, without comment. It's exactly as it was told to me. I have no reason to disbelieve it.
  posted at 11:27 am

At 1:22 pm, Blogger plum said...

The power of love and the power of food.


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