Today is my last day of freedom. Tomorrow, I wake up in time to get to campus by 9 and sit through 4 stultifying hours that are intended to train me to teach freshman writing. Whatev. At least I get free lunches all week as part of the deal. Plus I'm getting paid, so I shouldn't whine.
For my last meal as a free woman, though, boyfriend and I made a curry with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and these -- bitter melons. (We ate the long bumpy kind, not the short bumpy kind.)
The Vietnamese grocery only sold them in batches of 2, so we had a very melon-dominated curry. It was... how to say... bitter. The texture is more like apple (the green outer layer) crossed with squash (the white inner layer and seeds) than like melon; the seeds are nicely nutty, but the outer layer is quite pungent. Eating it with small green seeded chilies helped, as did garlic and yogurt, but it was still something of an adventure. Plus I get to have the same adventure tomorrow, since there are plenty of leftovers...
Also purchased at the Vietnamese grocery -- shrimp paste (belacan), which we cooked yesterday with ong choy (aka water spinach), an elusive vegetable until we realized that what we knew as "kangkung" (in Malay) had other names.
That dish -- kangkung belacan -- was one of the first things I ate when the boyfriend was introducing me to Chinese-Malay food. Again when we visited his mother's family on Borneo. So it was something of a thrill finally to be able to cook it ourselves, and have it taste exactly like it did all those other times we've eaten it. And when he returns to NY, and I cook for myself, I'm much less likely to cook these dishes that remind me of cooking with someone else. So I'm glad we're experimenting while we can.
updated to add: According to Wikipedia, "The seeds [of bitter melon] can also be eaten, and give off a sweet taste, but have been known to cause vomiting and stomach upset." Uh-oh.