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Culinary Autobiography (Abridged)

Our kitchen at home was done in roughly finished redwood, so it was dark in there a lot, but the east-facing windows over the sink flooded the room with warm, 10 a.m. sunlight on those wonderful Sunday mornings when we were all at home. Dad filled the windows with prisms. Standing behind him as he flipped sourdough pancakes, mesmerized by the flecks of rainbow dancing over the cabinets and in his hair is my earliest memory. Even now, evoking that scene sets my mind at ease. 

As I got older I was anxious to try my hand in the kitchen. One morning following a sleepover in first grade, my friend and I decided to make breakfast in bed for her parents: scrambled eggs and toast. The toast was fine, but I remember standing on a chair, staring forlornly into the frying pan at the scrabled eggs that just didn’t seem to be doing what they always did when my parents made them. Unfortunately, at six years old neither of us had yet realized that in order to cook anything, you first had to start the burner.

Fortunately, this didn’t discourage me from learning to cook. With a lot of help and guidance, I’ve come a long way since that first sad attempt. My mom taught me to bake, and I’m grateful to her for showing me how to make pie crusts. My dad’s garden taught me that vegetables are even better than cake, and his unforseen victory over prostate cancer, armed with nothing but oat groats and kale, impressed upon me the importance of a healthy diet.

In my senior year of high school I enrolled in a culinary arts class  and started a part time job as the sole prep cook at one of the highest rating restaurants on the Mendocino coast, and my love of food and cooking was officially a done deal. I learned how to make ice cream, how not to prepare a quince, and how flip an omelet like a pro. I also enjoyed dinner at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco – an amazing place where the waiters all set down the plates in unison and lay a clean napkin on your lap with silver tongs every time you come back from the restroom. (The tab, by the by, totaled a whopping $1100.)

I’ve now graduated from university, and I’m living on the west coast of Japan in Ishikawa prefecture. In general, I’m pretty ambivalent when people ask me if I “love it here,” but if I had to choose some aspect of life in this country that really strikes a key with me, I think it would be food. Japan takes food very seriously, and tourism here in particular lends itself well to trips centered largely around the culinary specialties of every region. There are things from home that I miss – like burritos, cheese and artichokes – but the vast array of food options that are available here more than makes up for those that are absent.

It’s recently come to my attention that I spam my friends’ Facebook news feeds with pictures of  the food I make and eat. Now that I’ve written down this abridged culinary autobiography, I can see where this tendency comes from. Nadia G of Bitchin’ Kitchen puts it better than I do, but I’m definitely one of those people who plans vacations around the places I want to eat, and who likes nothing more than enjoying a good meal while talking about some other good meal I had before. And even though the kitchen in my current residence leaves some things to be desired (i.e. counter space), it remains unrivaled for the honor of “best room in the house.”

In the interest of sparing the Facebook community from any more pictures of bento lunches or cakes, I hereby declare this blog the repository for photos, recipes and stories, for all of my culinary lustings, adventures and accomplishments. Whether you’re at home and wondering what people in Japan really eat, or in Japan seeking dietary guidance, or simply a fellow food-obsessed individual, I hope you’ll find something of interest here.



One thought on “Culinary Autobiography (Abridged)

  1. Our group’s ability to discuss other meals while eating something completely different is becoming legendary. Looking forward to reading this!

    Posted by odorunara | April 26, 2011, 11:22 pm

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