The Future… and the Rice Porridge

I attended (virtually) the Oxford Symposium on Food & Cookery again this year, with much less time available to spend perusing the papers and attending the followup question and answer sessions, but it was delightful to spend some time with fellow food obsessives from around the world.

One of the keynote speakers this year was Rob Hoskins, founder of the Transition movement, speaking on “What is to What If”. I was much taken with his Rilke quote

The future must enter you long before it happens

which he used in the context of the power of imagination to make change in this world that so needs it. His talk coincided with the launch of the millionaire’s rocket and the inhumanity of that gesture in a time of such need.

“Capitalism sells us short term pleasure,” he remarked – together with all the social and personal perils that ensue when expectations don’t meet reality.

In a more grounded session, I got my hands dirty.. well, food-encrusted anyway, at a Kitchen Lab online workshop. Organized by Danish chef Birgitte Kampmann in Copenhagen and featuring a diplomatic chef in Ottawa, Cameron Stauch, we delved into several unusual ways with rice, inspired by Stauch’s cookbook, Vegetarian Viet Nam. Here’s my version of his delicious recipe for Mixed Mushroom Rice Porridge (Cháo Nấm) – well garnished with home made crispy shallots, toasted sesame seeds, cilantro and spring onions – which found its way that morning onto my brunch table… despite a momentary power outage in the midst of the session, which knocked out my modem long enough to miss a few crucial steps!

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