Aug 28

I’ll Make It Myself!: Pixelated 1-Up Cake (Mario Bros.)

L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

 

Image of pixelated 1-up Mario mushroom cake

This Nintendo-inspired design is simple to create and works with any round cake–although you won’t want to miss this white-pepper-and-ginger one, which is easily to make in Japan, too.

Click HERE to read MORE.


Aug 25

Japan Local: B-1 Grand Prix in Towada

Mel T (Aomori-ken, 2007-2012) is a Canadian living and working in Towada City, Aomori. For more information about events, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. in Towada City, and around Aomori Prefecture & Japan, visit her blog at http://towada-city.blogspot.com.

B-1 Grand Prix in Towada Flyer Interested in trying out local “soul foods” from all over Japan?

Then the 10th B-1 Grand Prix in Towada is the event for you!

From October 3rd-4th, 2015, sixty-two groups from across Japan will gather in Towada (Aomori Prefecture) to promote their respective cities and local “soul foods”. Enjoy soba, udon, ramen, rice bowls, curry, fried foods, grilled meats, and various other dishes originating from Hokkaido to Kyushuu and vote for your favourite group. At the end of the second day, the most popular group–as selected by attendees–will be awarded the Gold Grand Prix Prize (symbolized by giant golden chopsticks :P).

Often misunderstood as standing for “B-grade” (“B級” B-kyuu in Japanese), the “B” in “B-1” actually stands for “brand.” The goal of the B-1 Grand Prix is to revitalize cities and towns through the promotion of their respective local brands. Apart from serving delicious food, participating groups also try to demonstrate their own unique brand of hospitality through performances, etc. This is why attendees of the B-1 Grand Prix are encouraged to vote for their favourite group and not just the best dish.

So if you want to get a taste of many different cities from around Japan, come to Towada for the B-1 Grand Prix.

十和田に愛に行こう!Towada ni ai ni ikou! Come to love Towada!

Official Website (Japanese): http://b-1towada.com/

Click HERE to learn MORE (English)


Jun 26

Justin’s Japan: Wismettac Wows at Japanese Food Fest

Click image to read story

Click image to read story

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Lovers of Japanese food and drink gathered at 230 Fifth in Midtown Manhattan on June 20 for the Wismettac Asian Foods 2015 NY Premium Sake and Shochu Tasting Event, an annual business-to-business gathering that served up a foodie’s paradise.

Formerly known as Nishimoto Trading Co., Ltd. USA, Wismettac Asian Foods, Inc. was established in Kobe in 1912, and is one of the oldest importers, wholesalers and distributors of Asian food products in North America. It is well known in the U.S. for its Shirakiku brand food products, which include rice, noodles, and seafood.

Now in its eighth year, the event featured around 25 different Japanese sake and shochu companies and 15 different food manufacturers. It’s a place where one can enjoy piping hot savory katsudon curry rice followed by chocolate mochi ice cream with freshly sliced strawberries, finishing with a crisp, refreshing selection of daiginjo sake.

“Participating in this event is a great opportunity, because I can introduce Japanese culture and it’s a great way to introduce how to use Japanese ingredients properly to make a delicious dish,” said Hideko Lilley, a sales associate for Wismettac attending the New York event for her third year.

For more on Wismettac, visit www.ntcltdusa.com.


May 27

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

 

Fresh fava beans one of the delights of spring in Japan. Learn how to measure and prepare them in this Japan-friendly recipe!

Click HERE to see MORE.


May 14

JQ Magazine: JQ&A with Merry White on ‘Kissaten: Japanese Cafes Past and Present’

"Japanese coffee standards are the highest—when there is a new varietal on the market, it is often sent to Japan for testing. If a bean can make it in Japan, it can make it anywhere. The quality tasters are very keen, and there are fewer defective beans permitted than anywhere in the world." (Courtesy of Merry White)

“Japanese coffee standards are the highest—when there is a new varietal on the market, it is often sent to Japan for testing. If a bean can make it in Japan, it can make it anywhere. The quality tasters are very keen, and there are fewer defective beans permitted than anywhere in the world.” (Courtesy of Merry White)

 

Brewing Up Something at Japan Society

By Alexis Agliano Sanborn (Shimane-ken, 2009-11) for JQ magazine. Alexis is a graduate of Harvard University’s Regional Studies-East Asia (RSEA) program, and currently works as an executive associate at Asia Society in New York City.

When it comes to notable food and drink of Japan, for many “coffee” is not the first thing that comes to mind. Yet, on May 21, Merry (Corky) White, Professor of Anthropology at Boston University, will teach audiences at Japan Society in New York City just how robust their coffee culture is, and how exacting their measurements are. Get ready for something good at Kissaten: Japanese Cafes, Past and Present.

White’s no newbie to food and Japan—it’s been much of the foundation of her professional work. If you look her up on Amazon, you’ll see that she’s been publishing food-related books since the mid-1970s, and regularly offers contributions to publications the world over. Definitely a foodie—and someone who knows her stuff. When not researching coffee and cafes, she’s active teaching about Japanese society, women in Asia, food and culture, and the anthropology of travel and tourism. Check her out on Twitter, where she regularly posts food- and culture-related content.

To whet your appetite for this program, JQ recently caught up with White to learn more about the coffee world in Japan, and what we can expect to hear from this rich presentation.

At your lecture at Japan Society, what do you hope to teach the audience about Japanese coffee culture?

I hope to surprise at least a few people, who may not yet know that Japanese coffee is a well-rooted, well-developed cultural product with a deep history. The coffee experience is also about cafes, koohii hausu, and kissaten, places with a special meaning that have developed over time in Japan. These places have offered people various distinctive experiences, depending on the era. The first ones, in the Meiji period (1868-1912), gave people a window on Europe, decor, clothing, foods—which continued into the Taisho period (1912-1926)  when the flappers and lounge lizards demonstrated a new modernity, and the urban cultures were changing to, for example, give women a place in public, too. It was fine for a young woman of good family in the daytime, anyway, to go to a cafe, though probably she might have a chaperone…

Can you describe an iconic Japanese-style kissaten?

Courtesy of Merry White

Courtesy of Merry White

Kissaten are now places of memory, as well as ordinary community life. Brown kissa are the “sepia-toned” places where especially middle-aged people (I would say over 60s) like to go for a nice place to sit and get good service and maybe see friends. Young people like them, too, as they often share a love of the past (one they wouldn’t have had themselves) as a retro experience. Kissaten, though, also have more contemporary styles.

Read More


May 6

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

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Part 5 on a series about Stuart Griffin’s Japanese Food and Cooking (1956)

If sushi is the engagement, sashimi, or raw fish, is the wedding. Now is the time to stop dabbling an plunge bolding into what may be regarded as the pièce de résistance, in the accepted French sense, and what some may regard as just the piece to resist, other will regard as the one they cannot resist.

Raw fish, to many foreigners, spells trouble.

“Raw fish!” one can hear them scream, “how could anyone think of eating such a thing?” (36)

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May 5

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

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Part 4 on a series about Stuart Griffin’s Japanese Food and Cooking (1956)

We’ve made it to the sushi chapter, readers!

I’ve spoken with several people about Griffin’s choice to describe sushi (well, nigiri sushi) as “rice sandwiches.” While I think most Americans in 2015 have some idea of what sushi is, in the 1950s, outside of Japanese-American communities, some explanation may have been required. Reactions to “rice sandwiches” have ranged from “no, that makes sense” to “aren’t they more like hors d’oeuvres?“* to (my favorite) “Do you know how sandwiches work?”

Click HERE to read MORE


May 2

Justin’s Japan: Hello Hoppy

Click image to read story

Click image to read story

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Japan is legendary for its social drinking culture, and now fans of its most popular beverage—beer—have a new reason to toast.

Hoppy, a popular 110-year-old beverage that looks and tastes very much like beer, is making its debut in New York. While most beers contain about 5% alcohol content, Hoppy is practically non-alcoholic at 0.8%, and can be mixed with shochu and liqueurs.

Fuko Chubachi, creative director for 3 Day Monk, a local design and promotion business that organized a release party for Hoppy at East Village eatery Wasan on April 9, explains its arrival in America: “Hoppy’s CEO, Mina Ishiwatari, has a very modern approach to what otherwise is a very traditional family business. She wants to see Hoppy expand beyond the boundaries of Japan to break into the international market. And what better place than New York City, with its progressive food and beverage programs, to set the stage!”

Ishiwatari was present at the launch event, as were a throng of guests who enjoyed some custom Wasan cuisines that paired excellently with special Hoppy-based concoctions mixed at the bar.

Natalie Graham, architectural designer for 3 Day Monk, points out Hoppy’s low calorie content and zero purines, which can cause certain metabolic diseases such as gout: “Hoppy is ideal for young people, beer lovers, foodies, and those who care for their health!”

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/HoppyBeverageNewYork


Apr 26

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

This weekend I had the chance to check out the documentary Washoku at Cinema Village, where it will be playing through the end of the month.  It features interviews with sushi chefs and other Japanese food proprietors, and asks them about their philosophy, preparation and overall view of Japanese food.  Many of them in talk in detail about the sacrifices they make for their craft, and how much pride they have in their work.  This film is truly a must see for all washoku lovers.

One of the tidbits I found interesting was the discussion of “umami,” or the fifth taste.  In one part, they were talking about the “aku” or scum that appears on the top of soup when it is being cooked, and how in Japan Read More


Mar 16

WIT Life #284: Durham’s Dashi Ramen & Izakaya

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

I was in Raleigh, NC this past weekend for an interpreting conference (hosted by the fabulous Carolina Association of Translators & Interpreters), and I wanted to check out the new Japanese influences as it had been a while since I had visited the area.  After going to see a band in downtown Durham, I was looking for a place to grab a drink.  I hoped to come across somewhere promising close to the venue, so was thrilled when I saw a sign for Dashi Ramen Shop & Izakay20150314_231015_resizeda.

Unfortunately the downstairs ramen shop had closed at 10:30 (on Saturday night?!), but the upstairs izakaya was still open with a limited menu.  I was happy to find a wide selection of Hitachino beers, including an Espresso Stout I had never tried before.  Of course I needed some Read More


Mar 12

I’ll Make It Myself!: Recipe: Pear-Almond Cake [Dairy-Free]

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

Pear-Almond Cake | I'll Make It Myself! 1

 

This “cake” occupies a nebulous area somewhere between dessert and cornbread. Almond meal, whole-wheat pastry flour, and cornmeal add a toothsome bite to the soft, sweet pears. I brought this to a potluck as dessert, but I liked it even better when I served it for brunch alongside a frittata and baked oatmeal.

Western pears (yônashi, 洋なし) can be a little tricky to find in certain regions and are not available year-round; the biggest producing regions are Tohoku and Koshinetsu, especially Niigata. Almond flour, whole-wheat pastry flour, corn meal are usually available in the baking section of supermarkets. (See notes for the translated ingredient list.)

Click HERE to read MORE.


Mar 10

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

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Part 3 on a series about Stuart Griffin’s Japanese Food and Cooking (1956)

Ch. 2: Rice Dishes

Griffin’s writing style reminds me of culinary gaslighting. He bounces between extolling the deliciousness of Japanese food and calling it gross; he urges his fellow expats (or, rather, their wives) to keep an open mind and expand their palates while simultaneously telling them that foreigners don’t like this food or that food, implying that American cuisine is normal and Japanese cuisine is a curiosity.

Click HERE to read MORE.

 


Mar 8

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

Part 2 of a series on culinary cultural imperialism in Stuart Griffin’s Japanese Food and Cooking.

Yet, in the fifth paragraph, he goes right back into making the sort of judgments that put people off trying new foods:

Foreigners make wince at the first reading of the following paragraphs, but this a mistake correctable in the eating (1).

While he’s right that trying new foods prepared well is often the way to throw off squeamish assumptions about their perceived foreignness and potential unpleasantness, presenting these types of fish as “this is kinda gross but try it, you’ll like it!” a rather ineffectual way to go about it.

Click HERE to read MORE.


Mar 7

I’ll Make It Myself!: Add a Dash of Cultural Imperialism: Japanese Food and Cooking (1956), Part 1

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

9781462902408_p0_v2_s260x420-1

My friends, knowing I love food history, gave me a copy of an English-language Japanese cookbook as a parting gift. It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about SCAP (Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers), the US presence in Occupied Japan from 1945-52. In grad school, I wrote about SCAP decrees regarding film, and the micro-management of Japanese media to “promote democracy.” This is a bit of a different look–not a government decree from above but a cookbook created by and for the post-Occupation (1956) expat who wants to make Japanese food at home in Japan. Griffin’s cookbook is a very telling sociological text in that it captures the general colonialist attitudes of the expats toward Japan as an occupied nation and of gender norms (for both Japanese and American women). Additionally, the book provides insight into the introduction of Japanese cuisine to Americans and to the US through its explanations of ingredients and dishes as well as the translations of some of the terms used.

Join me on this multi-part descent into the bowels of cultural imperialism in the kitchen!

Click HERE to read MORE.


Feb 12

I’ll Make It Myself!: Pumpkin-Orange Scones with Candied Ginger

L.M. (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11) is the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. Ze works in international student exchange; writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and the US; curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles, a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan; and admins The JET Alumni Culinary Group on LinkedIn.

I’ve made the chocolate-chip version of this recipe before, but I liked the second batch I made with crystallized ginger even better. The orange really makes the ginger pop without overpowering the pumpkin, and the scones are tender on the inside. They’re best fresh out of the oven –no need for jam, although clotted cream might be nice.

 

Pumpkin-Orange Scones with Candied Ginger | I'll Make It Myself! 2

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