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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

~ hair sauce

I remember little about Camberwell market. I was too tired. But I did come away with a wad of small denomination bills, a jacket heavy with coin, and far fewer books. No sign of the recession biting.

Polly, whose mother blanched at the idea of rising earlier than six o’clock, set up her own micro-stall, selling small shoes and videos. She made a few dollars too, but I was particularly intrigued by an obvious growth of her interest in commerce. With the prospect of a pay-off, any shyness evaporated, and she was happy to sit right up the front, hawking her wares with a combination of cuteness and rock bottom prices.

Countless times, I’ve tried to get her on stage in front of an audience, but failed. Perhaps I should have been offering a fee? I’m going to attempt to do a stall at Oakleigh market in a couple of weeks and this time I’ll set Polly up properly. My neighbouring stallholder at Camberwell – who was very impressed at Polly’s mercantile skills - suggested baking bread and getting her to sell it. Perhaps biscuits will do. Or chocolate crackles ...

With perfect timing, Barack Obama’s grandmother has just died. There was a sound bite from him on the radio this morning, culled from one of his speeches. He was speaking of his grandmother, who had a large hand in raising him. “She poured everything she had into me.”

I immediately felt inadequate as a parent. But, I guess, so would any other parent.

Again on the radio: a news item on the melamine milk-poisoning scandal. Apparently, in China, there are many other incidences of food substitution by greedy manufacturers. The reporter reeled off a list. What stuck in my mind was ‘soy sauce made from human hair’.

Could this truly be? I did some googling and found what was clearly the text I had heard broadcasted ...

‘They've found meat filled with hormones, eggs containing poisonous paint, soy sauce made out of human hair ...’

Are unscrupulous operators setting up deals with hairdressers? Sending their trucks on weekly hair pickups? Like the biodiesel freaks who buy used oil from fish and chip shops. [note: instant noodles are said to be fried with pre-loved oil sourced from hotels and restaurants]

Do impoverished families, with no other option, surrender their hair to the soy sauce people for a few measly yuan? In what system can human hair be a cheap substitute for soy beans? Or does it add a certain texture, colour or odour? Is there anything wrong with using it? I believe hair contains a fair amount of protein. Or is it just cannibalism?

And the process? What do they actually do to the hair to turn it into sauce? What’s the recipe? Is there a purpose built machine? A hairdresser once told me that by the end of the week the hair-bin at her salon was always very full, and if you burrowed right down to the bottom you would find that the oldest hair had begun to liquefy. Perhaps this is a clue ...

Investigating further, I learnt, on a particularly breathless site, that soy sauce was also made from blood clots and animal bones. I began to feel sick. Whatever the truth of it all, I think I’ll buy a better class of soy sauce from this time on.

PS: Interestingly, this site also speaks of ‘toxic fungi processed with trashed fungus products and soaked with ink’, ‘toxic shredded meat made from dead pigs and processed with bad bread crumbs,’ and ‘toxic duck blood made from cheap pig blood.’

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4 comments:

NickH said...

I've never been a big fan of soy sauce in the first place - too salty - and this has hammered the final rusty nail into its coffin. Fortunately, food standards in Australia are pretty high but there's only so much customs can do to check imports (I think only about 5 per cent).

And what's the benefit of duck blood in the first place? Are we talking about "black pudding", which one of my granddads was said to enjoy 'back in the day' (probably the 1930s)? Nightmarish scenarios ...

Sam Sejavka said...

Duck blood, who knows? But polly found a Chinese cigarette butt in a packet of party poppers today. [that's the exploding kind with streamers]

The Knitting Songbird said...

Had sushi a couple of days ago. I now regret dunking them into the tamari...

Considering I dabble in macrobiotics, my only question is: if it isn't genetically modified, sprayed, gelled, moussed or pomaded, can hair sauce be certified organic? Don't want to get a rude shock when I come home with the tamari from my local organic food store.

Mook said...

I'd believe the bit about hair liquefying - the rambling 100 year old wooden house we have bought in Riga has a basement, which is located underneath a space which used to be a hairdressers. When we bought the house, the trap door to the basement was nailed shut... because apparently the hairdresser used to sweep all of the cut hair into the basement! So when I finally ripped the trapdoor up and went into the basement with a flashlight and much trepidation, there was no hair in sight - just a lovely, rich, soil-like substance, a bit like peat I suppose. It's now been all dug out and as been put on our garden! Better than using it to make soy sauce I reckon...