Peter Kwong | Wok & Roll

Survival during the virus
Yes, the virus is here, and it has been affecting the whole world since its discovery in Wuhan, China, in December of 2019. Since then, it has spread to many other countries – Iran, Italy, Japan and Korea. And finally, the States have been diagnosed with the infection, too, and the whole world is in a panic mode. I have a good friend from Hong Kong who asked me to send him a couple of boxes of face masks as their supplies have been totally depleted. So I sent him a couple of boxes just to help him out. Goodness, the masks cost a little over $20, but the postage was over $120! Maybe it would have been cheaper if I took a plane and hand delivered to him? Regardless, I do feel the panic in the North Woods these days. People have been wiping out the shelves that stock bread, meats, eggs and toilet paper. Never understood how the usage of toilet paper is connected to the respiratory system? My good friend Bob Boyd has announced that he would provide a demonstration of using only one sheet of TP every time you use the bathroom. While waiting for his demonstration date, I’ve heard about this package of organic TP for sale. Comes in two flavors – eucalyptus and birch – and pinecones are complimentary. Hopefully, folks will calm down and resume their daily life’s activities. Am still pondering on the thought of how the virus and toilet paper are even related. Another mystery of life.
So, after walking through isles of empty shelves in Walmart, I began to wonder how we are going to survive in this dramatic situation. Companies are sending memos that they have plenty of inventory to keep up with the demands, yet people are still in a panic-buying mode. Just what you can do with 2,000 rolls of toilet paper, while your monthly use is eight rolls (or 15 for those special people with different eating habits). That’s almost a 10 years’ supply! What comfort and satisfaction can one get from stocking ample supplies of toilet paper while depriving others who have to depend on using “organic” tissues (or digging out old Sears catalogs from the recycle bin)?
While walking down the empty isles at the grocery store and wondering just what folks are going to do with a 10 years’ supply of toilet paper stocked in their garage, I was thinking about us common folks who have to live a normal life. What to do and what to eat when all the food supplies are wiped out? Luckily, when I checked on the shelves that are stocked with pasta and rice, they’re fully stocked, and so was the vegetable section. Aha, I told myself, there’s still hope for the human race. Yes, we can survive and we will live, as we are humans, the smartest of all species.
So I came up with a few food recipes that are simple, easy to make and with plenty of stock in the grocery store. Let’s just try with two simple recipes, fettuccine Alfredo and garlic toast. Two easy dishes that would make grandma proud. So, are you ready?
Fettuccine a la Peter
A fancy name, but it is just pasta with cream sauce that I made up (hence it bears my name). If you order fettuccine Alfredo in a fancy restaurant, you might be able to get away with paying $22, even with a couple of grinds of grated Parmesan cheese on top. There are hundreds of recipes, but here is my survival version:
Ingredients (for 6)
Fettuccine 1 package
Half and half 1 pint
Monterey cheese 4 ounces (or more, your choice)
Chicken powder 1 tablespoon
White wine 1 cup (and 1 glass for the chef)
Herbs 1 cup (basil, tarragon, Italian parsley)
Cook the pasta till al dente (cook till just right with a bite) and set aside.
In another pot, heat up the cream and other ingredients, stir slowly and adjust the flavor to taste. (Don’t forget the half and half rule – the wine goes to the sauce, the other half to the chef). Add the pasta to the sauce and let it simmer. The sauce will thicken as it absorbs into the pasta. Hence the golden rule that I learned from an Italian chef – “never adda oila in the pasta while you’re cooking it, justa adda some salta.” If the pasta is coated with oil, it won’t absorb the sauce. Such words of wisdom. I’ve been doing it wrong for so many years. The dish should be rich and thick. Then sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve. Sprinkle with some chopped Italian parsley and serve with garlic toast, and you’ll be the hero. I know the next question would be, “Justa how do you maka garlic toasta”? Oh well, we’re all in the survival mode, so I might as well give out my secrets. You might be thinking, why am I asking a Chinaman how to make garlic toast? Oh well, that’s why I love this country – everything is possible. So, are you ready?
Garlic toasta
Ingredients (for 6)
French/Italian bread 1 loaf (thickly sliced)
Garlic, minced 1 clove
Butter 1 cube
Parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon (sprinkle)
Paprika 1 teaspoon (sprinkle)
Italian parsley 1 teaspoon (chopped, garnish)
Brush the bread with butter or olive oil and toast in oven till brown, set aside.
In a heated skillet, heat the butter, add minced garlic and cook till brown. Spoon the garlic over brown toast evenly. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and add paprika for more color, with chopped Italian parsley.
You can eat the garlic toast as a snack, or as a side dish with your fettuccine.
Pick a good bottle of Italian white wine, or some local white wine – Pinot Grigio or even Riesling will do. The old days of red wine goes with red meat, and white wine goes with chicken or fish are gone. Choose whatever you fancy and enjoy your meal. These days, I like Pinot Noir (a red wine) with my grilled salmon with light cream sauce. Who is there to tell me that it is not appropriate?
So, forget about the virus, it will go away if we all watch what we’re doing – self-isolation and sanitizing everything when we have contact with others. Colleen worked as a hospice chaplain for many years and she has been giving me lectures of what sanitizing everything means, as she was in contact with dozens of patients every day. Door knobs, touching each other, just about everything that you never dreamed of can be infectious.
So, stock up your wine rack, just stay home and eata and drinka and be safe.
If you have any questions, just shoot me an email at [email protected]

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