Dec 28
IMG_9946 - httpsdocs.google.comdocumentd1xuM1HPRpZxeeXiS1nzDuvvt_Y3zReHfSNyLSYIwKrWcedit

“We’re gonna need a bigger shopping cart.” (Leah Zoller)

 

By Leah Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, 2009-11) for JQ magazine. Leah lives in Kanazawa, where she works as a writer and web administrator for The Art of Travel. In her spare time, she writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan and curates The Rice Cooker Chronicles on JETwit.com.

I live and work not too far from Omicho Market, and as a result, I see a lot of “Kanazawa’s Kitchen” and its back alleys in all seasons. I particularly like passing through in winter when the crabs are set outside the fish sellers’ stalls in the morning, the steam rising off their Styrofoam crates like a cloud in the cold air.

According to my coworkers, Omicho Market was once narrow and dirty, the way one expects a fish market to be. Since being renovated, Omicho, with its wide paths, incense to cover up the scent of fish, and ice blocks to relieve the summer heat, really fits with the tone and charm of our little city on the sea. Of course, the site is popular with tourists, but locals—myself included—actually shop there, since the variety and price of produce and seafood is often better than it is at the supermarkets. Every visit there is like a culinary adventure to me: What will be on sale today? Will the price of persimmons have dropped? What new squash varieties are the farms in the Noto growing?

Even Omicho, whose weaving roads I know like the back of my hand, has its surprises. One weekend in early winter (and winter comes early to Kanazawa), my husband and I were walking past one of the market’s side entrances when something caught my eye. I couldn’t quite process what I was seeing at first—was that a person was lying on the ground in front of one of the restaurants?

The figure on the ground was about my height, but slowly the realization that it wasn’t a person sank in. No, it wasn’t a person at all—it was a dead shark.

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Jul 29

The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Travel/ The Art of Japan: Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

“Rice” Cooker

by Adam H Lisbon (ALT, Kobe-shi, Hyogo-ken; 2004-2007), Program Associate at the North American Coordinating Council of Japanese Library Resources & Instructor of Japanese Studies at the University at Albany. Adam just finished his graduate program, receiving a master’s in information science. He is currently undertaking the perilous journey to become an academic librarian.

I fry eggs in my rice cooker. If I were still in Japan this would the kind of story I’d tell at the enkai, or to junior high students during my jikoshokai, explaining my wacky foreigner ways. But the truth is I got the idea from Japanese reality TV. The premise? Survive on 百万円 for one month. One contestant cooked everything in her rice cooker…at work, to cut back on her electricity use.

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Jan 16

The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Japan: Kanazawa and Discover Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

*****

Broccoli Lover Learns to BBQ

Part 2

by Clara Solomon (CIR, Nichinan-cho, Tottori-ken; 1999-2001), the Director of Counseling & Career Development at the Office of Career Services at New York University School of Law. She previously worked for the Japan External Trade Organization, specializing in trade relations between Japan and Latin America.  She lives in Queens with her husband and twin daughters.

Read Part 1 here.

Living in a small farming community has a lot of advantages, I soon learned. For example, I was at the town festival in August shortly after arriving, and casually mentioned to one of my farmer neighbors that I liked sweet corn. I woke up the next day to find about 15 ears of freshly-picked sweet corn on my doorstep. Even when I didn’t particularly like something, I would often find that a kind neighbor, perhaps worried about my over-consumption of broccoli, had left bushels of it at my front door. I guess they’d heard that Americans eat a lot, because they would leave bags stuffed with enough eggplant, cabbage, and carrots to feed a small army. (Why, I often wondered, had I not moved to rural Tuscany, where I could have gotten donations of sun-ripened tomatoes, basil, and fresh bufala mozzarella?).
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Jan 3

The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Japan: Kanazawa and Discover Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

*****

Broccoli Lover Learns to BBQ

Part 1

by Clara Solomon (CIR, Nichinan-cho, Tottori-ken; 1999-2001), the Director of Counseling & Career Development at the Office of Career Services at New York University School of Law. She previously worked for the Japan External Trade Organization, specializing in trade relations between Japan and Latin America.  She lives in Queens with her husband and twin daughters.

Many of my experiences in Japan are tied up in the experience of food and cooking. Sure, I have my fill of the standard repertoire of “how many weird things will the American try?” My favorite of those is the night I was out at a new inn in my town, one that specialized in fresh, local food, with a “high end rustic” slant. So, I’m out with some co-workers enjoying a truly delicious meal, when they put a plate of glistening, dark red sashimi before me and say “to-rai, to-rai” (try, try). I wasn’t quite sure what this fish was, it was darker red than any tuna I’d ever seen, so dark it was almost purple, or black. There were thick veins of white fatty meat running through each piece – it almost looked like raw beef, though I could tell from the smell and texture that it was fish. “What is this?” I innocently asked, knowing full well that they wouldn’t tell me until I ate it. This game was a favorite of my colleagues, and they again said “to-rai.” So, I tried it. The minute I popped the full piece in my mouth, the entire table burst out with giggles and choruses of “Greeenpeesu! Greenpeesu!” Yes, Greenpeace. Turns out, I was eating endangered whale, the fishing and eating of which Japan has long been at odds with environmental groups like Greenpeace over (not to mention UN conventions, and the opinion of much of the rest of the world, minus Norway and the Inuit). How was it, you ask? Honestly, not that memorable. For one, it was extremely cold, indicating that it had probably been frozen and shipped to my town from somewhere further south (so much for eating local). For two, I think I would have rather had a piece of fatty tuna, whose rich, buttery flavor far outshone this piece of whale.

I could go on for pages regaling you with stories about the strange things I was given to eat, and the strange situations in which I found myself eating them (wild boar on live TV, anyone?). But, when I think back to the essence of my eating, drinking and cooking in Japan, those are only the warm up acts, the comedy routines that politicians put into the beginning of their stump speeches to play to the base and entice the crowds to stick around for the meat and potatoes (not that I had a lot of meat and potatoes in Japan…). My story of food in Japan is one of cooking and sharing, and gaining not only friends, but also self confidence in the process. Read More


Dec 12

The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and web administrator for The Art of Japan: Kanazawa and Discover Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome. Just e-mail it to jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

******

Kaijō!

by Justin Maki (ALT Osaka-fu, 2002-06), a writer and editor currently working at the Sports desk of Kyodo News America in New York City. Justin’s short fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in a handful of small journals. Contact him at makij408@gmail.com.

 

 

 

“When you go to the kitchen to prepare dinner, be born in the kitchen. When you finish there, die. Then be born at the dining table as you eat your dinner and, when you finish eating, die there. Be born in the garden, and sweep with your broom. When you get into bed at night, die there. And when daylight comes, and you awaken in your bed, be born anew.”

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Nov 3

The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and translator for The Art of Japan: Kanazawa and Discover Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome.  Just e-mail it to Leah at jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

******

“My Rice Ball World”

by Meredith Hodges-Boos (ALT, Ehime-ken, 2003-2005).  Please visit http://meredithhodgesboos.blog.com/ for more essays on her time in Japan and current literary projects.

I dragged my tired body into the entryway and found just enough energy to pry off my shoes.  The door rattled on the track as I slumped into the main room of the house my husband and I shared as Assistant Language Teachers.  “I’m home,”  I muttered to Greg and I blinked into the bright light of the room.  The glare and blare of the used Playstation we’d bought at Hard Off lit up the tatami in a rainbow of colors.

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Oct 17

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The Rice Cooker Chronicles is a series of essays by JETs and JET alumni on the theme of cooking/eating and being alone in Japan. The brain-child of JETwit founder  Steven Horowitz (Aichi-ken, Kariya-shi, 1992-94) (and inspired by the book Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant), this series is curated by L.M. Zoller (CIR Ishikawa-ken, Anamizu, 2009-11), the editor of The Ishikawa JET Kitchen: Cooking in Japan Without a Fight. A writer and translator for The Art of Japan: Kanazawa and Discover Kanazawa, ze also writes I’ll Make It Myself!, a blog about food culture in Japan.

New submissions always welcome.  E-mail us at jetwit [at] jetwit.com.

**********

“Nattode”

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

I’m at a restaurant that bleeds sophistication. Seated across from me is a stunning member of the opposite sex, joining me for the sole purpose of sampling the house’s signature dish, a personal favorite of mine.

Tender music swells in the background. The lighting is perfect, with the glow of candlelight on the table framing my partner’s irresistible charms as a celebrated bon vivant holds court four tables over. Spirits are high, and we’re high on spirits. The mood is ripe.

I snap my fingers to cue the waiter, who gracefully sets two silver trays before us. “Enjoy,” he says dryly. I look him straight in the eye and grin, signaling as I have many times before that I fully intend to.

It’s time. Gloved hands raise the lids, revealing…a small pair of Styrofoam trays with thin sheets of plastic on top. My date is puzzled.

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