30 (Mon) November 2020
The Holy Roller
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (21)
While reading my way through the 99 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922 – leading up to the 100th winner to be announced next year – I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal, literally give us this day our daily bread. The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
(For additional posts relating to Newbery Medal books, see NEWBERY)
The Bronze Bow (1962) by Elizabeth George Speare. Set in Galilee at the dawn of the 1st Century, the book is about Daniel bar Jamin, a young Jew who is a blacksmith by day, the leader at night of an underground resistance group against the Roman conquerors of his country. It starts off as a seemingly standard sandals-and-swords tale then takes an unexpected turn when Daniel – through his mentor Simon the Zealot, one of the Twelve Apostles – meets Jesus of Nazareth, quite literally deus ex machina.
Simon found a place for the boys between two burly fellows who reeked of fish and garlic. Someone had led Jesus to the seat of honor at the head of the table. Several women were moving now among the men, carrying wooden platters of bread and lettuce and small fish fried in oil. They placed the dishes on the mat before Jesus, and he looked up with a warm smile.
“You must have worked long, my daughters,” he said, “to provide a feast for so many.”
Still trying to figure out how I felt about the book, which ultimately turns out to be a Christian gospel. Nothing wrong with that per se, just wasn’t expecting to encounter Jesus H Christ as a character among Newbery books.
At that time and place, bread likely would’ve been unleavened and baked flat. Indian naan, which is often though not necessarily leavened in its modern form, seemed a reasonable substitute.
Both pickles and yogurt have been around forever, so the condiment was not entirely incongruous.
The lettuce, I was quite pleased to read that bit of detail in the book. Otherwise, bread and fish alone would’ve been so cliché.
The fish was red mullet. I’ve had the fish in Lebanon (see 9.334 Deep-Fried Red Mullet), which borders Galilee along the Mediterranean Sea, so it was a legitimate choice. Following the book’s description of how it was cooked – another culinary detail in the book that I appreciated – I dredged the fillet in flour and deep-fried it in olive oil (another Mediterranean product).
The sandwich was pretty good. Open faced on construction, it was folded (rolled) lengthwise for eating; the firm structure of the naan held it together. The fish was crispy on the outside, flaky inside, a bit fishy in flavor but tasty. The lettuce was cool and snappy, a light counterpoint to the fish and bread. The condiment provided a touch of creaminess and a slight kick. In all honesty and humility, I really believe that Jesus would’ve liked it.
And so, in claiming to have created a dish worthy of God, GMTD achieves the pinnacle of gastronomic hubris.
(For more details re food, see WHAT)
(For more details re venues, see WHERE IN KOREA)