I discovered Slow Food during summer of 2007 while working on a dissertation examining food and culture. I have been following the organization’s social concerns ever since, and ten days ago, I pledged to take Slow Food’s $5 Challenge to help raise awareness that healthy and affordable meals are within reach for all.
As stated by Gordon Jenkins of Slow Food USA, “Real value meals – meals that reflect our values – should be affordable and available to everyone.” A jaded critic might see Slow Food’s premise as another hipster movement, much like the promotion of local and organic foods wherein it became a status symbol to dine like a locavore and eat organic produce.
The point is that people who can afford to buy what’s best for them and for their family without breaking the bank will do so, and that is the point of the challenge… to prove that good meals made with healthy ingredients are affordable. Chef Kurt Michael Friese showed that one can create a healthy meal for less than what is worth to buy from a fast food chain, by disproving a claim made by KFC that one cannot “create a family meal for less than $10.” It would behoove me to echo the concern of sociologists that for a single working parent time is critical and that is how fast food places trump over good quality meals.
For my contribution to the challenge, I thought of meals that I used to cook as a college student. If I couldn’t cook a dish in less than 15 minutes then I didn’t bother. No wonder pasta and noodles made frequent appearances for lunch and dinner. College students everywhere would be able to name a favorite ramen noodle brand with Top Ramen, I bet, making top of the list. Why? Because it’s quick to make and quick to satisfy. So as a nod to my college days, here’s a healthier and slower version of the noodle soup dishes I used to devour (and still do). Noodle soups are versatile and the cook should always feel free to substitute.
Duck and Gai Choy Vegetable Noodle Soup
Duck, roasted and chopped into bite size pieces
Gai choy (mustard greens), shredded
Saimin noodles, 1lb
Green onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (soy sauce, optional)
Cook noodles according to packaging instructions and set aside. Boil salted water and add the greens to parboil, then set aside. In the same stock of water, cook the fish ball. When the fish balls are floating, add the roasted duck pieces. Lower the heat and add the greens. Season to taste. Turn off the heat then add the green onions. Smile and serve.
The ingredients were bought from Uwajimaya-Bellevue and the prices are as follows: Saimin-$3.18, Gai choy-$2.35, Fish ball-$2.99, Green onions-$1.00, Duck 1/2, $9.99. The total came out to $20.42 because the duck is taxed since it was bought in the food court. Given the amount cooked, the Hubby and I estimated that there was enough noodle soup to satisfy six people, putting the meal at $3.40 per person.
The $5 Slow Food Challenge asks that the meal must cost $5 or less per person. I am pleased to have taken and met the challenge; it was an edifying experience, to say the least.