The small explosion coming from the kitchen could be heard at the bar table outside. Very quickly a grayish cloud of dust came wafting out of the kitchen door and a gray dust settled all over the surfaces.
Everybody ran outside for cover and to get away from the horrendous smell of rotten egg.
I had just tried to open one of those thousand year old eggs I brought back from Singapore in December 2006!
It exploded in my face. (talk about egg on your face!)
I am always one for bringing back absolutely useless and strange things from far away countries. This time it was one of those raw duck eggs wrapped in gray clay and I was going to show Hans and Joan (who were there for lunch) how nice it was to eat one of those things!
I don't know what was worse, the smell, my guests retching outside or the look I got from June!
Anyway, that was another one to write off to experience.
But, then ..... I had to see what a thousand year old egg is really all about. Surely, I could not have made such a mistake out of total ignorance.
This is what I found.
Preserved duck eggs are a traditional Chinese delicacy, and although known as "1000-year-old eggs" they are rarely more than 100 days old. (So mine was
a rarity at almost 500 days!)
It is a common dish, sometimes known as pidan
, that is made by coating duck or chicken eggs in a clay-like plaster of red earth, garden lime, salt, wood ash, and tea. To prevent the eggs from sticking, and for an attractive presentation, the chef advises layering and wrapping individual eggs in rice husks and packing them into an airtight container.
(Needless to say that I did none of the above of course. Just left it in an egg cup on a kitchen shelf looking pretty)
The preserved duck egg is smooth and creamy like an avocado, with a greenish yolk, and a no-longer-white white that is compared to the color of blackish amber or black opal, with hints of yellow, blue, and green hues. The flavor is "rich, pungent and cheese-like."
Serving suggestion: Cut in wedges and serve with sweet pickled vegetables or a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine, and minced ginger. Yum!
Or, as the old Latin adage says: "de gustibus non est disputandum" (there's no accounting for taste)!
Much better were Joan's vetkoeke.
I had not had any of those for yonks and when we went around there a couple of weeks ago she was busy making these vetkoeke the size of rugby balls.
The last time I remember having one of those was when Kel came to fetch me at home in Linbro park and took me to the other side of Pretoria where, according to him, you could get the best vetkoeke and mince in the world! They were good, but not half as good as Joan's!
After eating Joan's vetkoeke Kel would certainly have changed his mind!
It's been a couple of months since our last newsletter and if it wasn't for the hundreds of emails we keep on getting, asking where the next one is, I would still be procrastinating.
So here we are. It's April already and the first quarter of the year is behind us. How time flies. Just the other day we were on holiday in Turkey.
But, that is the life we lead. We rush around not counting those precious seconds, minutes, hours and days we sometimes just throw away by ignoring how precious they really are and doing something more than let them just pass by.
This month it will be 13 years since Biltongmakers started going. I can't believe it sometimes. Those early days when Kel designed his first Biltong Maker and we started playing around with a little web design program to see if we could make ourselves famous!
How little did we know and how much has been learned.
But, here we are.
The Biltong Buddy, Rockey's Biltong maker and our large Industrial Cabinets are taking a place of pride in kitchens and butcheries all over the world in countries as far flung as Taiwan, Singapore, Russia, Khazakstan, Barbados, Florida, Iceland, Australia, the USA, Europe and, ah well, too many to mention.
And while one always has some unhappy customers these are very few and far between the thousands upon thousands of people who are very happy that they can make their own biltong so far away from home. Their emails and letters tells us that daily.
Needless to say, it also makes us happy. Happy to be able to provide a service that gives a little of "the home country" to those so far away.
And so we, in the northern hemisphere go into our summer and our friends "Down South" into their winter. I hope you will have a good one, whichever it may be.
Till the next time,