Every year around this time, Noonie sends me the same text message:
Those two simple words quickly make my mouth water and bring a smile to my lips.
The same two words cause DP to groan and scrunch up his nose at the thought of enduring the smell of my cranberry concoction. It’s surprising because he will eat anything.
Noonie and I don’t eat cranberries in the conventional way. No cranberry sauce, scones, breads, tarts, or salads for us. While those recipes are all tasty, why would we waste a perfectly good bag? We want the fresh, raw berries swimming in a bowl of spicy fish sauce, and we want them now! Especially when they are in season and sold 2 bags for $5.
My obsession with sour and spicy things is deep-rooted, even genetic. In a perfect world, I would have green mango and tamarind trees in my back yard, so that I could always have something to dip into this delicious condiment that smells terrible to most Westerners. You certainly would not eat it on a date. Well, I take that back. Noonie and I would. A test of true devotion is whether or not you still want to be around for the lingering aroma.
Unfortunately, I don’t have access to as many sour exotic fruits as I want. I have been known to substitute with Granny Smith apples, grapefruit, and even limes in desperate times.
And then there are cranberries.
Small, crunchy, tart little morsels whose flavor is enhanced by the spicy saltiness of our favorite dipping sauce.
I grab a bowl and eat them with a spoon, one by one, imagining that Noonie is doing the same thing, hundreds of miles away. One of our favorite pastimes involves sitting on the floor, gossiping and eating sour treats with jaew like two old ladies.
So what is in this jaew? It consists of sugar, shrimp paste, fish sauce, roasted rice meal, and dried chili flakes, combined in a golden ratio and stirred with a spoon until the sugar is dissolved.
Too offensive for most nostrils, but good enough for both Noonies and even a princess.