An adjective used to describe a new flavour experience achieved with the addition of condiments in a dish or drink. Flavours can be enhanced, dominated, created, structured, manipulated by each and every single different kind of condiment, ranging from the traditional salt & pepper, to ketchup to exotic spices like saffron. Condiments are quite often overlooked and they have the power to make or break a dish. They can assassinate a dish at the last minute. They can also bring a dish to life create when all condiments are used in a heavenly marriage.
#Update…wikipedia has decided that this was more appropriate for wikitionary but the latter thought it was not suitable as a ‘definition’ of the word itself.
Two things I carry with me when I’m in China…or anywhere else for that matter: Old Godmother (or Lao Gan Ma) Chilli Sauce and a bottle of water.
One of the latest food scandals to hit China is the use of ‘gutter oil’. As the name implies, it’s cooking oil that has been made (or reprocessed) from cooking oil taken from the gutter and sewerage. And if you thought that was crafty, a gang was recently busted for inventing a new kind of 'gutter oil’ made out of decomposed animal fat and organs from slaughterhouses. Read the article here.
So when I’m eating at a hawker street stall somewhere in China that could be using 'gutter oil’, I can at least be sure that my chilli oil is free of gutter oil. Although in China, anything could be fake…they even make fake eggs!
Old Godmother Chilli Sauce has spread globally now and you can find it at most Chinese supermarkets. The story behind the Chilli Sauce Empress is both inspirational and condimental. Below is just a brief excerpt from the Women of China article:
Tao Huabi, born in a remote village of Meitan County, Guizhou Province, has made Lao Gan Ma, the affectionate, familiar form of address loosely translated as godmother, nationally synonymous with her famous brand of chili sauce.
Born to a poor family, Tao never went to school. At age 20 she married a member of the 206 geological team. Her husband died of illness a few years later, leaving Tao to raise their two children alone. Illiterate and with no specific work skills, as a matter of survival Tao had no other choice but to work as a street vendor.
In 1989, Tao opened a small noodle restaurant. She did a roaring trade, but soon discovered that it was her own, specially formulated chili sauce seasoning that kept customers coming back for more. Many would call in just to buy bags of it to take home. Acting on the advice of friends, Tao decided to set up a chili sauce production line.
For a woman who is illiterate and with no background in finance, Tao’s is the success story of all time. She has made a five-yuan jar of chili sauce as famous as the top-rated Maotai liquor brand. But Tao, unlike the Maotai manufacturers, refuses to kow-tow to the capitalist market. Neither does she flaunt her wealth. She was speechless with rage when, in 2005 someone read to her the news that Forbes had proclaimed her the Richest in Woman Guizhou. To the woman whose friends, workers and business associate know her as godmother, being distinguished solely for her wealth was to Tao Bi the ultimate insult.