At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014


Most food-bloggers write rather mundane texts to accompany their recipes. And often they will mention mum or grandma, to indicate by warmish blurfle that it is a family treasure which they impart.
Alas, such pedestrian food-writing does not excite!
What does it say about the cook?
Why did they even post it?
Are they nude?
Why not?

Imagine please the following:

The tropical downpour pounded the red earth without let-up, and by mid-afternoon rivulets of muck had cascaded down the hillside, washing away the chicken coops and fences. The whiskey was all gone by then, and the team of anthropologists had decided that it would be more comfortable to strip to their skivies, rather than spend any more time wearing soggy clothing. Warm icky underwear clung to their bodies, and they looked a right sight. Grandfather Arif was highly amused; he had not imagined that American academics were that goofily pale.
Surely they were popular with the ladies?

By tea-time, all five of the American academics had gotten wasted on the rice-wine. When they woke up, they'd have screaming hangovers. Arif contemplated dragging them into the pig-pen, or having the tribal ritualist tattoo them while they were comatose. It would be very funny.
Unfortunately the ritualist knew only crocodile and hornbill patterns, both denoting certain manly virtues. It could be inappropriate.
And the pigs might object to the smell.

As a pair of crested hornbills winged across the clearing, he asked his daughter to make enough ripi-ripi to share with the insensate Americans. He himself put some buckets out in the rain, so that he could wake them up for dinner.

There were still several martabans of rice wine.
It would be a long amusing evening.
He intended mischief.
And dancing!

[A salad mixture, with spinach and slivered meat.]
Enough for two or three people.
Or more, if served as a side dish.

Handful of rice stick noodles.
Quarter pound of lean pork, slivered.
One pound of spinach, washed and chopped.
One carrot, scraped and slivered or matchstick cut.
One or two slices of ginger
Two or three fresh jalapenos, seeded and sliced.
Half cup crumbled fried peanuts.
Plenty of chopped cilantro.

Two tablespoons slivered ginger.
Two tablespoons sugar.
Two tablespoons fermented shrimp paste.
Two tablespoons oil (preferably olive oil).
One clove garlic, finely minced.
Juice of two or three limes (quarter to half cup).

Peeled coarsely chunked cucumber on the side.

Fry the fermented shrimp paste in a little oil, decant with its oil to a bowl. Add the lime juice and sugar, and whisk-in the ginger and garlic.

Heat up water in a sauce pan with the ginger slices added. Boil the rice noodles a minute or so till tender. Drain with a sieve scoop and rinse under cold water, then dump on a plate, leaving the water (and sliced ginger) in the pot to blanch the slivered pork. When the pork has changed colour, dump it on top of the noodles, off centre. Blanch the spinach in the same water, and also dump on top of the noodles, next to the pork. Do likewise to the carrot.

At this point you should have a mound of cool or cold rice noodles, with separate deposits of pork, spinach, and carrot. Dump the crumbled peanuts, sliced jalapenos, and cilantro on top, or in the centre.
Put the bowl of dressing alongside.
It is a lovely presentation.
Visually striking.

Now destroy the effect: Mix, serve, and eat.

Shredded green mango on the side is a nice addition.

The remaining blanch-water can be acidulated by squeezing in some lime juice, and with watercress added it makes a rather pleasant broth.

Tribal rice wine ('tuwak') is a potent and rather unpleasant liquid, with semi-solid crap floating on the surface. Think of cheesy porridge above, with clearer liquid below, which why it is drunk through bamboo straws.
It does get better with age, provided the alcohol percentage is high enough. At its worst, it is reminiscent of athletic garb left unwashed.
Mostly it's like white wine with the occasional semi-solid.
If strained it makes a very passable liquid.
When aged it becomes sherry-like.

It is considered very beneficial to the skin.

Young ladies in particular should drink it.

Rice wine will make them utterly radiant.


To make rice wine, use equal proportions of glutinous rice and sugar. For five pounds of rice use one pound of yeast (available in dried balls at the village store).

Boil the rice till it is mushy, let it cool completely. Pound the yeast in a mortar to a powder. Layer the mushy rice alternatingly with powdered yeast, making each layer invisible with the next. Cover the container but do not seal it, as it does need air. Set it in the sun for five or six days.
Now mix the sugar with two to five times the volume of boiling water. When dissolved, let it cool completely. Then mix it into the fermented rice with a wooden stick which has been thoroughly boiled to sterilize it. Cover this soup (again, do not seal), and set it aside for at least a month.
It need not be strained, if you are using straws. And please note that bamboo is bacteriostatic, which is why it is used for drinking straws and ladles.
If you are planning to get drunk soon, use more water. If you wish to age the rice wine, use less. It will continue to ferment, albeit at a slower rate.

Rice wine is often consumed in vast quantities during the rainy season, when there is not much to do and travel is difficult. Binges may last several days.

Always use pure cane sugar or palm sugar.
Never use honey.

If any pigs or chickens are missing after your binge, you probably ate them.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 1:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    is there any need to use so much yeast?
    yeast grows by itself, doesn't it?

  • At 7:51 AM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    The yeast used is not pure, but basically the flotsam from a previous batch scooped up and dried in the sun. Think of it as being yeast-rich pellets of future drunkenness.


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