Friday 21 April 2023

Butter called Sal

Years ago, I was a saddo single person living round the corner from a supermarket. After work (I had a job and the money that brought so I could shop), I'd wander up and down the aisles trying to think of something to cook for my saddo single dinner. I made disastrously foolish decisions on multi-pack Kit-Kats and cheap stir-fry. At the tail end of Orthodox Easter, we were down on Costa na Déise for a few days of elder-care . . . round the corner from a supermarket.

After dinner, a cry went up "More dessert is needed" - because who wants an apple? Dau.II and I took one for the team and went round the corner in search of something adjacent to  lemon posset  [whc prev]. The closest strike was Supervalu Sicilian lemon yoghurt but we also came away with 94g of "Munchies Gold Caramel Flavour Sharing Bag". As y' do, when investigating a new-to-me product, the ToC was closely scrutinized:

Sugar, Vegetable Fats (Palm, Mango Kernel, Sal, Shea, Rapeseed, Sunflower), Glucose Syrup, Invert Sugar Syrup, Sweetened Condensed Skimmed Milk (Milk, Sugar), Whey Powder product (Milk), Skimmed Milk Powder, Wheat Flour (contains Calcium, Iron, Thiamin and Niacin), Butterfat (Milk), Cocoa Butter, Dried Whole Milk, Emulsifier (Lecithins), Cocoa Mass, Whey Powder (Milk), Raising Agents (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Barley Malt Extract, Salt, Lactose (Milk), Caramelised Sugar, Natural Flavouring, Maltodextrin, Safflower Concentrate 

It's candy, so you'd expect a lorra sugar but we were intrigued by the gallimaufry of exotic vegetable fats [Palm, Mango Kernel, Sal, Shea, Rapeseed, Sunflower]. Sal?? never 'eard of it! But Sal [ripe seeds L] turns out to quite a big thing in India: a tree known as Shorea robusta; a member of the Dipterocarp [aka two winged seeds] family. Sal trees are sacred and under the protection of Vishnu. The mother of Gautama Buddha is said to have clutched a Sal branch while giving birth to Hissonour. 

Apart from the religious stuff, the seeds are the size of a seedless grape and 14% fat which is extracted to produce a buttery spread, which is solid at room temperature. Those who live in or near to Sal forests use the sal-ghee for cooking but entrepreneurs also convert the goop in soap, varnish, paint and lubricants. I suspect that the food engineers at Nestlé don't care much what sort of vegetable fat goes into the Munchie vats. The fat-ingredient is likely subject to the vagaries of global markets and the marketeers kick the ToC list to safety by including any-and-all species which might be in our 94g.

A final observation: pretty much the only customers in the shop at 8pm on a Monday evening were single silverbacks with more or less empty baskets. I imagine [I may be over-empathizing] that, like saddo me 20+ years ago, these old chaps are wandering around killing time in the aisles because 

  • TV is utter bollix; 
  • the Men's Shed is on Wednesday;
  • Supervalu is warm and dry

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