(Please note that I am trying a new format for my blog. Those of you who read it as an email will see a Read More link after the first paragraph. When you click it, you will be directed to the blog website, so that I will know how many people are reading my blog. All these months I haven’t known because you haven’t been counted. Some days it has looked like I have 0 readers and that has made me a bit sad! So thank you for letting me try this new format. Please let me know if it doesn’t work or is inconvenient. Thank you! – xx, Meher)
Today, I had lunch with Dawn and three other dear friends. Often she will talk about an aspect of Japanese culture – the language or the food – in a way that seems familiar yet distant, reflecting her status as a third generation Japanese American. After we had eaten, our friend Toshi (see May 7), who was born and raised in Japan, was explaining different ways to drink steeped green tea and Dawn was asking her for advice about consuming some powdered matcha she had bought recently. Even though she is ethnically fully Japanese, it is not really her culture, and she was just as intrigued by what Toshi was explaining as the rest of us were. After I returned home, I decided to send her a book about Japanese food as a thank you gift for lunch. Written by a wonderful American commentator on Japanese culture, Donald Richie (!), the book explains various Japanese foods and drinks and their cultural contexts in a way that she might enjoy – as someone who is both Japanese and non-Japanese at the same time. Continue reading June 11, 2015
David has known Steve and Laura for many years. In fact, David went to high school with Steve and they have been close ever since, playing tennis together for many years when David was more physically able, taking ditch days once a year, and, since Steve is a dentist, meeting twice a year for Steve to check David’s teeth. Steve met Laura when they were in their twenties, they played tennis together, fell in love, and they were married and had two kids already by the time David and I met. Laura is a nutritionist and a very creative cook who makes some of the most delicious salads I have ever tasted, many with Japanese noodles, seaweed and other delectable East Asian ingredients. Steve and Laura are both Japanese American, from families who emigrated to the US decades ago and settled in Hawaii, so they have a very mellow, comfortable air about them, despite the fact that they are both the busy parents of three children.
When I first met them, I took to them immediately, in part because of their Japanese roots, but more because of their warm, very welcoming personalities and their dazzling smiles. (They have amazing teeth!) Over the years, though we only seen them a couple of times a year, they are gracious and generous, passing down to us clothes, toys and books for Theo, sharing advice about parenting and inviting us to join them for many terrific feasts at their home. Today, they drove all the way across town in the rain to join us for a small gathering. I wanted to give them something that would honor their heritage, Laura’s talent with food, and our Japan connection. I chose a set of five small antique lacquered dishes for soy sauce. The Japanese don’t use sets of four dishes, as the number four is inauspicious, so sets of five are common and fit their family well. I don’t know how old the dishes are, but they have some age. They survived intact for many years, like David and Steve’s friendship, and increasingly also Laura’s and mine.