Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Things that should be there but aren't.
Today I went out to try and get my hands on some coconut oil for frying purposes. You'd imagine that being in a tropical island not too far away from the world's greatest producer of the fruit (the Philippines, to be exact) it wouldn't be hard to find the stuff, but interestingly, it is. Checked out local health food stores on the internet, and those which did have tiny bottles of the stuff (100-300 mls) had it at horribly expensive prices.
Eventually, I did manage to find a retailer that I felt was reasonable, but only because the stuff was on a 30% discount at the moment. I'll test it out, see how it goes and I feel, and if it isn't up to snuff then I can go back to the far cheaper coconut cream for my saturated fat needs. I'm sure there are better suppliers out there, but I've exhausted my local internet capabilities.
But what is more interesting, though, is that most of the coconut oil actually states it's manufactured in the US. Considering the sheer amount of copra processed in the region, you'd imagine we'd have more regionally produced coconut oil, but the few examples I found that were manufactured in Thailand were every bit as expensive as the US-produced ones. I guess the fact that the retailers were health food stores had something to do with it, too, but...
By the same measure, you'd imagine that ghee would be freely available in Singapore, considering the 13% or so of the local population that's Indian. However, I've only run across ghee once in my life, and it was in a dingy mom-and-pop provision shop in the middle of Little India, in canned form to boot.
What kinds of fat do we locals use for cooking, then? The usual suspects: sunflower, canola, corn, generic "vegetable", so on and so forth, the usual suspects. You can see the local Indian cooks at the food courts frying unleavened flatbread in it; everyone regardless of race and creed has bought into the lipid hypothesis.
Monkey see, monkey do. Most people will eat what's set in front of them without thinking twice, especially if an "expert" tells them it's good(TM).
Where did the coconut oil and ghee go? Well, we do know where it went in the latter case. Things that were in our original cultures and traditions, tested and tried by time and proven to be at least workable, if not good for us - replaced by disgusting stuff because we're told "it's for our own good", and we just swallowed it whole without even toeing the water ourselves. Thank goodness we haven't given up using coconut cream in our curries, though, as also in traditional malay cuisine. Skim milk curry tastes bland and horrible by comparison.