Have you ever eaten something that tasted like dead ants? Well, that’s not quite the way to describe it. Dead ants have a particular smell and sometimes food tastes like that smell. This was the hallmark of my first encounter with baked ricotta. It was very disconcerting for the hostess to have her food associated with deceased insects. She was a serious cook.
My second encounter was very pleasant. It was one of those morning teas where various people contribute to the table. The ricotta was a late arrival and made a grand entrance. It had been freshly baked. It had a light texture and was yummy enough for multiple crackers.
My latest encounter was today. I bought a packet of Margaret River baked ricotta at the supermarket. It wasn’t light. It was very dense. The picture on the packet suggested serving it with a salad. So I did. I tried to eat too much. It was very filling. And very salty. It will no doubt appeal to many people, but it was not for this beginner.
I’m determined to add baked ricotta to my protein supply because the morning tea episode convinced me I like it. Plus, my health insurer’s newsletter claims that 1/3 cup of reduced-fat ricotta is a good protein substitute for meat. Just as it is important to vary the fish species in one’s diet, I think it is also important to eat from a wide range of protein sources.
The experiment begins. I will no longer be slave to the packaged food industry – no matter how gourmet the likes of Margaret River are supposed to be. It seems that the process of baking ricotta is very basic – you bake it. Some recipes suggest using a water bath. There is a choice between sweet and savoury.
And dead ants? That mystery was solved at the hairdressers. Lying back in the rumbling massage chair, I smelt it again. Either it was a stray slip into an episode of synaesthesia (if that’s even possible) or coconut reminds me of dead ants.