Monday, July 28, 2008

A short history of tofu

I hate fictional and/or memoir things that claim to be a short history of something peripheral to the author's main point, that his/her uncle was having an affair with his/her father and/or mother. I do not know the history of tofu, short or long but I do know I like it. And like so many things it gets totally up my nose when people make snide remarks about tofu no-one would think of making about, you know, nougat as though tofu stood for something that went beyond its reality as a food. I happen to really like tofu.

If you want a short history of my history of tofu, I can't give it to you because I don't remember even when I was first introduced to it. I certainly don't ever recall thinking of it as an acquirable, or acquired, taste. It can't be anyway really I suppose as it doesn't have much of a taste, but like a lot of good bread, its texture complements a taste, doesn't it.

I do recall: working in health food in 1985 and having to sell this non-dairy icecream called just something very plain like, Tofu Ice Cream (not tofutti which I think came later). I do remember then that many customers would say to me, 'What is tufo?' i.e. the word was so unfamiliar to them they had never even heard it before and in fact so unfamiliar they had read it wrong. I also remember at this time at least one person I related the 'tofu ice cream' concept to, not in the workplace but a cohabitant, saying 'TOE-FOOD? Is that something you feed your toes with?' People are so contemptible when they don't know what's going on.

But it would not have been much later that I was told of a friend's taste for raw tofu on toast with melted cheese on top. The reason I mention this is that I think I might have become inured to the idea of tofu as some kind of cheese substitute. Not that I would necessarily use it that way, but that others usually did. And if you ate tofu you probably weren't that into dairy.

Another grouse thing about tofu is what it comes from, the soybean. I like:

Red bean drink you get in japanese restaurants - is that soybeans?
Soy milk - the only milk I drink as other milk makes me feel queasy
Soy sauce - I was thinking this morning when it became more acceptable to refer to soy milk as 'soy' rather than using that shorthand to refer to 'soy sauce'. I think that must have happened around the late 1990s
Soybeans you get in japanese restaurants, in the shell, you know

AND SO ON ETC

16 comments:

Dorian said...

Apparently its not quite bad for you (thyroid) and also they destroy rainforests in order to grow all the soybeans. But I heard that on facebook so I wouldn't know.

David said...

'its not quite bad for you (thyroid)'? What means?

Anonymous said...

according to a bloke I once knew, who converted from being a veritable apostle of soy, teaching people how to make their own tofu at home to later become something of the order of an anti-soy activist, warning about its potential to dangerously build up concentrations of hormones like estrogen, the chinese character for soy is a stylized pictograph of a plant's root system, whereas the other main food plant's(wheat, barley, rice etc) symbols represent the above ground portion of the plant. according to my informant, some schools of thought argue that this reflects the fact that the soy bean, as a leguminous plant, was initially most valued for its nitrogen fixing properties, as a "green manure" or fallow plant to restore fertility after heavy cropping. consumption of the soy bean as a food began after populations had reached such intensities that a fallow crop became an luxury... according to this one bloke, that is.

David said...

So the word on the street is it's bad for you. It's not as bad for you as chips, I bet. Or watching The Hollowmen.

David said...

Being anonymous is also quite bad for you.

Anonymous said...

but at least you don't have to own your own run-on sentences...

Dorian said...

Oh. Sorry about the bad sentence. I eat tofu, I eat chips and I watch The Hollowmen but I only really enjoy the chips.

Rochelle said...

Hi David, I'm just plugging my favourite Soy Milk - BonSoy - which is apparently made from a recipe perfected by 'ancient Japanese soy-masters'!

Now that soy is officially considered 'not good for you' I do get a guilty pleasure from drinking it, which is far more satisfying than the virtuous feel-good vibes that soy used to bring in the days of the Liver Cleansing Diet.

David said...

I agree Rochelle. I place it in the dice with danger category enjoyed by smokers and players of russian roulette. In fact, yesterday I binge-drank whatever the sanitarium brand of soy milk is - with akta-vite no less (funny how when you feel you're recuperating from something it's license to consume less healthy stuff. At last, an observation worthy of a desk calendar).

boy moritz said...

Warning fellas, soy milk is meant to give you man boobs (could be a recommendation, I suppose)

David said...

That's right - MEANT TO

wayne's tony said...

Tofu is ace. We especially like Yenson's brand.

wayne's tony said...

Oh, and in Japan we didn't see a single example of man boobs and they eat heaps of tofu.

David said...

Bought some Yenson's yesterday.

Vera said...

Okay, here's my two cents worth. I drink mostly soy milk, it's good. The trouble began when I had to find some with no sugar in it. For a while there, Vitasoy Organic was the only one I could find without sugar in it. I went out of my way to Safeways to get it. Then they stopped stocking it. So I found another sugarless brand but it tasted foul. Now I'm drinking Aussie Soy (just the regular one, not Lite). Amazing how sugar is in absolutely EVERYTHING these days...

David said...

I always wanted to make my own (though I knew it would be beyond gross).