Generally, I like Japanese food. I am down with basashi (horse sashimi), liver sashimi, all traditional food, almost all seafood (except for mutsugoro and kujira, which are the Japanese for mudskipper and whale), and have even developed a positive view of grilled hormone (intestines).
However, sometimes things can get a little out of hand in Japan. Some Japanese people do not seem to grasp the concept that mayonnaise is a condiment best used to make specific dishes. You use mayonnaise to make tuna/egg/macaroni salads. You use mayonnaise in sandwitches or hamburgers. You use mayonnaise as a base to make sauces and dressings. Mayonnaise should only be used in these contexts.
Now, I know that some Europeans and people that have been to Europe like to dip their French (er…Freedom) fries in mayonnaise. I personally do not like dipping my fries this way, because it is disgusting.
But the way that mayonaisse is used in Japan is truly filthy.
At my hoikuens, the teachers like to use plain mayo as their salad dressing. Nastiness.
How would you like a seafood pizza with octopus, shrimp, and clams? What could possibly make this worse?
Hmmmm… Is your white rice a little too plain? Why not just drown it in mayonnaise to give it some fatty goodness!
Wow! A hot dog baked into the bun! But whats that white stuff liberally drizzled on top and baked into it?
Mayonnaise doused omelet? Yes Brian, it does exist…
To be fair, Japanese use of mayonnaise can yield some delicious results, but finding complementary combinations between food and this particular condiment have been exhausted. Thats it. Stick to the tried and true recipies.
What do you think you are doing? Don’t be creative with mayonnaise. Be creative with beer. Be creative with hot sauce or other sauces. Be creative by creating art. Be creative in how you express yourself. Don’t be creative expressing yourself in mayonnaise… It is not bold, nor is it brave. It is stupid and obnoxious. No, not everything is relative, these words are the truth, so shut up already!
Living in Ubuyama can really be an inconvenience sometimes. If I were back at home on this Friday, I would be remembering the spectacular dinner that I had eaten yesterday, and would be helping myself to my third helping of leftover deep-fried turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, ham, salads (caesar, potato, macaroni, and maybe jello), mashed potatoes, chips and dip, vegetables, and a thick, rich gravy drowning everything.
Not that I can complain, though. I made a couple of Japanese friends panfried steaks and eggs topped with fried garlic, with grilled shiitake and onions in a redwine sauce, with rice and an italian salad! As it was the first time that they had eaten this stuff, it blew their minds (this is common when I cook, but it is usually either extremely good, or extremely bad- though this only happens on average two times a year). Not bad for a meal that took twenty minutes to prepare.
You may have been noticing that I have been talking an awful lot about food lately, and this reflects my state of mind. Japanese food is good, but during the holidays, I need to eat like an American! Yo, supersize that biznitch, and yes I will take the chocolate shake and an extra order of chicken strips and curly fries to start with… 22 days…
Nestled among my childhood memories of visiting Gardena and West L.A. is one of my Dad taking us to RocketBowl for a big, steaming bowl of Saimin. It is a simple soup that sort of bears a resemblance to ramen, but the noodles are wavy, and the broth is almost pho-ish, served with red ginger and green onions.
Along with waffle dogs, locomoco, various spam dishes, and plate lunches, I remember eating some good saimin on my last trip to Hawaii. Up until that point, I just assumed that Saimin was a hybrid food, the result of a fusion of Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian cooking, but I was wrong. I found out where Saimin (for all of you haolies and mainlanders, this is a noodle soup popular to Hawaii) originated: that place is Okinawa, and over there it is known as Okinawa Soba. Bringing things full circle, the Okinawans make their fried rice with Spam! Ah, those islanders, they know how to eat!
Until I am on my way back to California! Time is flying, but I want that Alerto’s carne asada burrito now!
Will I have reverse culture shock when I get back?
Will Orange County smell foreign?
Will driving on the 405 seem like jumping to ludacris speed?
Will Justin or I drift onto the wrong side of the road?
Will watching television at home be more confusing than watching it in Japan?
Will I know of any of the current movies that are out?
Is the Seal Beach discount movie theatre still open?
How many friends or people I know will I randomly meet? How many of them have gotten married, have successful jobs, have recently gotten laid off or died?
How much will I spend at In n Out, Alertos, Pho 69, Tommy’s, Jack in the Box, and all of the other places that I have been craving for over a year?
To what extent will English have changed? What words have faded from or been added to the lexicon? Will it sound “stupid”?
Does everyone now use a cellphone, as I have heard? How far behind are the phones compared to Japanese models?
What will the landscape of California look like? Is is all charred and brown, or has regrowth and regeneration started? What is it like having Arnold as the Governer? Are people still talking about him?
Will I feel more comfortable surrounded by strangers who speak English, or by strangers who speak Japanese? Will anyone tell me that my “English is really good!” and ask me why? Will anyone tell me that my Japanese is horrible and ask me why?
How fast does Brent’s black Z go? How fast does my dad’s Q and the Odessey go? How fast am I going in kilometers? How many pounds will I gain during the stay? How many will I lose immediately after coming back to Japan? How many of my kids will tell me that my face has become “really fat”?
These are just a few of the thoughts that come and go when I think about the trip. Time is zipping by, as work has been really busy, but I am ready. I am looking forward to wearing shorts and t shirts again, as I sit here typing, my fingers numbing from the cold.
Yes, the temperature forecasts have once again plunged below 0 degrees (celcius), and the kotatsu is essentail to ward off frostbitten toes. I can see my breath in my house. But this is only the tip o the iceberg… I know that when I come back from Christmas break, I will need to start leaving my faucets running so that the pipes don’t freeze this year. If my towel freezes again this year, I will post a pic of the stiff upside-down U, created from the towel freezing while hanging, that blew my mind last year. Once again, it is time for nabe, hot chocolate, tea, and anything hot.
Come to think of it, the nabe is astonishingly similar to butajiru, but the version that Justin taught to me adds:
chicken or pork
Try this stuff during a really cold night, and you will be thankful.
While I am posting recipies, here is another cold weather favorite:
Adam’s French/Viet Beef Stew
This stew recipe is based on a beef stew that I had in Little Saigon while the Cruz and Yoshida parents met up for the first time in God knows how many years. My version kicks just as much ass!
Lots of spare ribs, like 2 or more pounds
2 Carrots, cubed
2 Potatoes, cubed
1 can of tomatoes, whole
tomato paste (thanks for reminding me Justin)
Bullion cubes and water/ beef or chicken broth
Red, red wine
Salt, pepper, basil, your favorite spices
Fraunch Bread, a baguette
Season the spareribs(I prefer using Lawry’s seasoned salt and garlic salt) and brown them in the pan with olive oil.
Pour in about two cups of wine, using this to dissolve the residue of the crisped spareribs. Add the vegetables, seasonings, and broth and bring to a simmer.
Let sit for about three hours, occasionally stirring, and adding spices and herbs to taste. Also, add more wine or broth to taste.
By the end of the three hours, the stew should be a nice reddish brown, with fine golden globules of goodness (fat) dancing on the surface of the stew. If the stew is not thick enough, add a mixture of flour dissolved in water, or some other starch.
Serve on a generous portion of rice or dip your baguette into it, and throw some chopped cilantro on top.
This is the best way to enjoy spareribs if you don’t have access to an oven. Enjoy.
Yoroku? Nashi! Musuko wakakata? Nashi! Yabakatta? So, Amerika! (American coffee the bandits explain, is ridiculously weak. Like a stolen piece of junk, it does not do anything for one).
Aitsu jibun o nani-sama da to omotte yagarun da? Taka ga eda hagi da ze. (Who the fuck does he think he is? He’s nothing more than a two bit panty theif!) Japanese complements of Peter Constantine
Today, I arrived at Hokubu Hoikuen (the Northern-Ubuyama pre-school), at 10:00, just as Nakano sensei discovered evidence of a breaking and entering. Someone had let themself in through the restroom window, leaving muddy footprints all over. All of the desk drawers were riffled through, but nothing was taken. The police were called and arrived at 11:00. They used an array of lights and dust to search for finger prints, and took an hour and a half to do a complete sweep. It would seem to be the same burglar who, last week on Monday, broke into Hokubu Sho (Northern-Ubuyama Elementary) and stole the kyoto-sensei’s laptop and Fukuda sensei’s digicam.
The search yeilded no leads.
The CSI dude on the right with nifty light, supervised by the Ichinomiya Police Seargeant. These dudes were total dicks when I tried to talk to them, but became friendly when the teachers told them I was a Nikkei Yonsei (4th gen. American).
Point of entry.
Inside close-up. The glass was punched out precisely next to the lock. This window is made of an opaque glass and thinner than the other windows.
Outside close-up. Obviously the theif used tools to open the window, as a finger could not safely pass through the hole. Like a monkey using a twig to snag ant larvae.
Footprint (next to my foot) outside the window. The robber has feet smaller than mine. Luckily for him, it was raining last night, and so any other footprints were washed away.
It is a sad thing, when robbers try to rob nursery schools. What was the guy thinking? Hmmmm… That place must hold gallons of milk and a fortune’s worth of cookies, not to mention the juice and crayons! And just think of all the toys… After this heist, its straight up naptime. Jackpot!
About half a year ago, someone stole some shirts out of the Superintendent’s car, so it seems that petty theft is becoming more prevalent in our small village. All I know is that I have a big, sharp cleaver a few feet from my bed. On a separate note, I have no problem in implementing my version of Hammurabi’s code on anyone foolish enough to try and break into my house.
I found this description of the Cosmic Buddha floating in the ether:
The truth of the cosmic order, which is contained in the relationships between the Cosmic Buddha and all his manifestations, cannot be known verbally.
So why bother to use mere text to describe it? Does this make sense to anyone? Also, the Cosmic Buddha has an elite posse, clique, cadre, crew, or whatever you would like to call his group of fellow Buddhas. Where are the other Buddhas and their respective blogs?
In the Diamond World, the Cosmic Buddha (Dainichi Nyorai in Japanese), sits in the center of assemblies of Buddhas arranged in a three by three square.
Does the excerpt below mean that his other pad was in fact, a uterus, and his pals are puppies of the same litter? No, the words mean nothing because the relations of the Cosmic Buddha cannot be explained with words.
The other world, the Womb World (Taizokai in Japanese, Garbhadhatu in Sanskrit), was the world of physical phenomenon. In this mandala, the Dainichi Nyorai sits in the middle in relationship to all his physical manifestations ranged in several courts radiating outward from him.