Saturday, October 01, 2005

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters

I first fell for Wing Lee Bakery because of their fragrant, chewy, substantial, exotic, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves.
Each bundle contains a ball of glutinous rice encasing a filling of gravy-ish cut-up chicken, along with tiny dried shrimp and Chinese black mushrooms. Some recipes also use Chinese sausage, and I honestly can't tell you whether the ones I buy contain any.
But the secret ingredient that Must Not Be Left Out [ominous thunder boom offstage] is the lotus leaves. First, the dried leaves are remoistened in hot water for 30 to 60 minutes. Then the stuffed rice blob (the rice and the filling are already cooked) is wrapped in two of these monsters (they're bigger than an old vinyl LP), and steamed for 20 minutes.
During that brief, impassioned honeymoon, the rice takes on a most wondrous flavor: something in between tea and tobacco.
And it's just as addictive.
Remember your Homer?
On the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them.
They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return.
Nevertheless, though they wept bitterly, I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars.

Well, it turns out lotus leaves might have, er, "medicinal" qualities. According to an herbalist web site I came across, "All parts of the flowers and leaves of the Asian water lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, also known as the Sacred Lotus, are a traditional relaxing and inebriating smoke, similar to a mild cannabis."
Good thing there's a big ol' bridge between me and my dealer.


Greg said...

Ah Ha! No wonder I feel so good after dim sum... lotus leaf rice.

Monkey Gland said...


cookiecrumb said...

Hey, but it's legal. Not like ::ahem:: Absinthe!