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Burning dumplings

9 Nov

Tan walked in to the usual restaurant and greeted everyone. He is 60 years old and frequents this restaurant. He knows all the staff by name. The restaurant is located just around the corner from where he lives now. Tan said to the restaurant owner, “Larry, I’d like the usual.” “How about trying the special today?”, asked Larry. Tan agreed and sat down at his usual back table and picked at his fingers. When Larry came back, he set down a steaming plate of dumplings.

I was 30 years old with my beautiful wife and my young son. It was New Years and we were sitting in the dining table having the traditional dumplings for dinner. My wife made wonderful, delicious dumplings. Dumplings signify family union and we were happy to be celebrating New Years together. Then we heard the bombings. I yelled over the sound of the bombs, “Quickly, run to the bomb shelter!” I pushed and shoved my family then led the way outside towards the bomb shelter. I looked outside and saw neighboring houses were going up in flames and people were all running out of their burning houses. I ran outside then felt a painful blow to my head. I was disoriented for a bit and when I looked back at my house and where my family was supposed to be, all I saw was flames. A bomb has hit our home and my wife and son were not able to escape. I fell to my knees and sobbed. I don’t know how long I kneeled there.

Tan stared at his plate of dumplings and his vision blurred with his tears filled eyes. He has not had any dumplings in over 30 years.


Got Milk?

18 Oct

In the various Momotaro stories, the old woman and old man had intentions to feast on the giant peach but they soon discovered that Momotaro was contained inside the peach. The origin of Momotaro is both mythical and magical. And when Momotaro leaves to fight, he is handed some millet dumplings in which he used to bargain for his retainers: the dog, the monkey and the pheasant. The dumplings served as a lure and payment for his soldiers. Momotaro’s millet dumplings gave him power to win the fight.

In a western myth, a mythical food also gave someone power. The true story is when Zeus had an affair with Alcmene, Alcmene gave birth to Hercules. When Zeus’ wife, Hera was asleep, Zeus let Hercules drink Hera’s milk which gave him the strength of immortals. The transgression and allowing Hercules to drink from Hera made Hera very angry. This milk is the mythical food which is the origin and source of Hercules’ infamous strength and power.

Disney had a different take on the myth. In the Disney movie, Hercules was born a God and was therefore immortal. However, the milk of Hercules was spiked by Hades which made him a mortal but his powers remained with him. This milk is the reason why Hercules was on Earth and not with the Gods on Mount Olympus.

On both different takes of the same myth, the milk that Hercules drank served as both a source of power and a source of downfall. Milk isn’t thought of as greatly in the myth but it had certainly affected the life of Hercules greatly.

A Burst of Magic

28 Sep

Tanizaki’s Gourmet Club transform an ordinary Chinese dish into something different, something magical. The story’s main character Count G goes through great measures to observe a rather unauthentic Chinese feast when he is rejected by the president of the club to dine with them. Finally he presents this altered Chinese cuisine to his fellow Gourmet Club members whom had grown tired of Japanese food. Count G demonstrates this magical food as food that could generate imaginations, heighten senses and drive the person looking and eating the food into a whole new level of eating.

I have experienced something as magical at member A did when he had a woman’s hand in his mouth but definitely not as odd. As a special treat, my family and I had dinner at The Bazzar. We ordered caprese which as most of you know, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. However, what came was these little white and red balls with something that resembles tiny cheez-its. Our server quickly told us not to use our forks to puncture those red and white balls. I picked up my spoon and scooped one red and one white ball and a tiny cheez-it. When I put all these items into my mouth and bit into them, all these items burst and became a mixture of the taste of a normal caprese. Turns out the tiny red balls were extremely juicy tomatoes and the white balls were liquid mozzarella. Who would have thought that mozzarella could come in liquid form. So instead of the usual chewiness of mozzarella, I get a burst of mixture of juices that is so refreshing that I could feel it enveloping my entire body. My senses were so heightened at this unexpected taste and texture.

I will always remember this meal as it was nothing that I expected. It was magical and creative and nothing like I have ever had before.

Garden on Sept 18th

19 Sep

The garden looks great. I went at 3:30 so the sun wasn’t shining directly on the plants.

We definitely need to replant the germinated seeds as you can see that they are growing too tightly together. We’re also going to need more space. Hopefully there will be enough space once we remove the sunflowers and the pumpkins.

Asian Fusion

16 Sep

Fusion cuisine is an increasingly popular type of cookery and often sparks an interest for “foodies” especially in LA. The innovation to mix and match cuisines and give a twist to traditional meals mostly appeals to these so called “foodies” or food experts. As an Asian, born and breed in Asia, Asian fusion does not appeal to me or Fukuoka as the mix of taste loses the traditional and nature taste of how dishes are supposed to be like.

For example the Asian fusion dish, cream cheese wonton. The idea is to wrap wonton skins with cream cheese filling then deep frying it. Although you can put a variety of stuffing into wontons, putting in cream cheese which is a western ingredient messes up the simple taste of wontons. Instead of a light dish usually filled with vegetables, you get a heavy pungent and sticky dish. The nature of wontons is lost when the filling is substituted by a very western ingredient. Instead of being healthy, this cream cheese wonton is very oily and fattening.

Fukuoka would not be like this dish unlike “foodies” since this dish is too contemporary and untraditional. Fukuoka would have probably liked the traditional approach to wontons as it is simple and made with lots of vegetables and little meat. A “foodie” will have the complete opposite approach and will most likely want to explore the different fillings that wontons can have.  Fukuoka has a completely different attitude of food which includes being one with nature than a “foodie” who puts emphasis on innovation which leads to perhaps a rather pricey dinner bill.


Garden on 9/11/2010

11 Sep

Most of the seeds have germinated so the garden looks a bit different. The fastest growing plant so far are the radishes.

The seeds in the middle row doesn’t appear to have germinated yet. Everything looked alright today.

1 dinner made into 3 dishes

6 Sep

I have always been a lover of food. As the saying goes, I live to eat.

One night when a friend was visiting Los Angeles, she requested to have dinner at Lawry’s. Because her flight was late, we went there at around 9pm. Each of us ordered a normal cut but the chef gave us all huge slabs of beef which we assumed is because they need to sell all of their meat before the night ends. Obviously none of us could finish it all so we all packed up our beef and went home.

I enjoy cooking and do not mind spending an entire afternoon in the kitchen but I have always like to stick to recipes and not experiment with food so I like to cook with fresh, uncooked ingredients. However with so much leftovers, I decided that I need to cook them with some varieties and not just heat it up again. With that leftover meat, we used the bones for soup and added tomatoes and potatoes. The soup was flavorful and the potatoes absorbed all the oil from the beef. Afterwards, we took out that bone for my friend’s dog to chew. For the first meal, we used half of the meat for stir fry with left over sautéed mushrooms. For the second meal, we cubed the other half and topped them on a salad composed of romaine, avocado and crumbled eggs. The meat was what made the salad truly filling.

Those slabs of meat lasted us 3 meals and a special treat for my friend’s dog. We wanted to make the most out of the meat and some left over mushrooms so we did not simply fry the meat again but tried to make a few different dishes out of a nice slice of prime rib. Each dish that we made was delicious. It is a wonder with what you can do with some leftover meat. I would definitely do it again.


Garden on 9/4/2010

4 Sep

The sun was shining directly above the plants as usaul so the soil seemed to be very dry. Even after a lot of watering the soil absorbed the water quite rapidly. So far there is no visible difference in terms of growth of the plants. There is now a nozzle attached to the hose which should make watering easier. Also, to minimize the amount of water spraying out from the part of the hose that connects to the faucet, I pressed down on the tap as I was opening it and it seemed to be a bit better.