living and learning

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A bottle of soy sauce please. Err, which one?

Soy sauce aisle in Walmart (Shenzhen, China)

Soy sauce is the salt and pepper of Chinese cuisine. The versatile, unobtrusive condiment adds a touch of umami - the crucial 'fifth taste' - to any dish you happen to be cooking. It's part of our national identity, not unlike what Henderson's Relish is to Sheffielders.

15 years ago you could only get it at specialist Chinese supermarkets, all of which were a couple of hours' drive away, but since then the Brits have caught on and acquired a taste for the salty stuff:
Me: ...went to Tescos today, got a new bottle of soy...
Mum: What?? They now have soy sauce at Tescos?!
Times change, mum. Soy, falafel, pâté, hummus and all manner of outlandish food have been known to turn up in the student's pantry. Apparently Chicken Tikka Masala is the new Fish 'n' Chips!

Though our food culture is ever-changing, I wouldn't like to see the demise of English classics such as the Sunday roast and Yorkshire pudding. But I do dream of the day when you get to choose your soy sauce at the local corner shop:D


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