Friday, October 06, 2006

AW Chain Seven

AW Chain Seven.

Key word taken from The Road Less Traveled: Mushroom, or What I Ate For Dinner Tonight.

Peggy mentioned comfort food...this could have so easily gone back to chocolate. And believe me I ran through all those chocolate stories in my mind, imagined all the bon bons and melties I could eat and call it research, but in the end I went for the mushroom. I think the mushroom needs a little PR.

The first time I ever ate a mushroom was when I came to Japan. I was in my fourth year at university, and that was the first time I ever partook in a mushroom. You see up until then I thought mushrooms were those poisonous things that when found on pizza were always quickly removed, squashed in a paper towel and promptly disposed of. Not only that, but I believed there was one variety.

It's starting to cool off somewhat. And that's all I need to fix one of my most favorite foods, hot pot! (As an aside, I took Chinese for something like four years and "hot pot" is the only word I can still say in that language. Everything else has simply vanished. But "huo guo", nope, that still stays with me. I figure it must be fate. I believe not only in people-fate...but food-fate as well. "I was meant to eat that cheesecake, really.")

How to make hot pot/huo guo/nabe:

You take a giant clay pot or one of these fancy new electric ones that allow you cook on your table, and fill it with water, a dash of dashi--a kind of fish stock (that sounds worse than it is) and heat that puppy up. Next you chop up various vegetables: Chinese cabbage, long onion, all sorts of mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, shimeji) etc. Another common ingredient is konyaku, a gelatin-like, non-tasting-like, fishy smelling-like food stuff. Here is the kind I use.

aw 7 konyaku

Konyaku is usually dark grey. The above is white (not so stinky) and tied in a knot. Plus it looks cool and feels freaky when you bite it.

Here is what the veggies look like all chopped up

aw 7 namayasai

For meat you can use either the super thin slices of pork or beef they sell or these chicken and vegetable meatballs that I often get. Look! I put four cans of beer on top of my meatballs and they got smooshed. Luckily they're raw and shape right back up with a little help from a spoon.

aw7 meatballs

Stick all that into the hot pot and wait for it to cook. Bubble-bubble, steam-steam.

aw7 nabe

Now, you're all thinking, but it has no flavor save that fish stock stuff you mentioned. And you'd be right!

This is where it gets fun. They sell dipping sauces! The two main ones are goma, a sesame sauce or ponzu, a citrusy sauce. Aside from a bowl of rice to eat with the hot pot (nabe in Japanese, btw) you get a couple little bowls to fill with one or both of the dipping sauces. Retrieve whatever it is from the pot you got a hankerin' for, dunk it and eat!

Now, I'm a die hard ponzu nut. Here is my little bowl and chopsticks. Notice the meatball isn't exactly round. Yea, sorry about that. Look at all them 'shrooms.

aw 7 ponzu

J is a goma/sesame nut. So here he is eating his freshly dipped enoki.

aw 7 j and mushroom

Mushrooms are pretty big here, I guess. They even have their own theme song. I'm not kidding. A year or so ago some company came out with this commercial and it just took off. There have been a whole string of commercials as well as dolls, cell phone straps; everyone sings the song. You can't help it, when you go into the grocery store there is usually a cassette player playing it at the mushroom department. It's probably a kind of brain washing. But I suppose in a good way. Rather that than, eat more gummies, by the handful yea!

So, what did you have for supper tonight? And I better not hear, a hanful of gummies.

Now, you may all scamper off to Atomic Bear at Beyond the Great Chimney Production Log because he's so cool, and well...he's next!

Monday, October 02, 2006

My Cell Phone携帯

Those of you who have seen or talked to me in the last two weeks knew this post was inevitable.

I am smitten! I have a new cell phone, and I am in love. I don't own a couch, chair, table lamp, clothes dryer, toaster, or bed. Yep, none. But I do have a new cell phone.

And so you can see where my priorities lie.

Here it is.

Hot Pink.

And it sliiiides open.

The darn thing is smarter than I'll ever be. Of course it has a camera where you can choose size, pixel size, ISO, aperture, shutter speed etc., it has a radio, and some messenger thing where I can mail friends and we can become these little barnyard animal manga-looking characters and chat. It also tells me it even has a library! Oh, and since it goes online there are infinite games, shops, and other online goodies.

That's all fine and dandy.

But right now the part I'm most excited about is that it holds a memory card (of up to 4giga) and works like a Walkman. Since I'm the only one in the family without a portable listening device, I am ever-so stoked about this. I spent all last weekend filling it will Primus, Yes, A Perfect Circle, you know, the works. I know sleep with the thing.

On my last visit to the states (almost two years ago) I was shocked to notice not every, indeed hardly any, American had a cell phone growing out of their ear or attached to their palm. Things may have changed since then. I am looking forward to seeing what's up on the mobile telephone scene when I go back this winter. And you just know I'm gonna show off by making a long distance phone call with my pink puppy!

Here. You'd be hard pressed to find someone without a cell phone. And I'm talking the elderly and children as well. I have been tutoring my mother-in-law on how to use her new one for a few weeks now. She got one because all her friends had one, she admits. And half of J's fifth grade class has one. I know first graders who have them. The reasoning behind giving them to children is because of all the abuctions of recent. The children's phones come with GPS and alarms and stuff.

Here is a short list of what phones are used for here in Japan:

Read novels. Yep, they really do. I actually wrote an article (I am too lazy to dig up) about an author who writes novels especially for cell phones. His target audience is junior high and high school girls. He sends the story out in installments at several yen per mini chapter. The guy is quite clever as he has developed an enormous fan base and literally uses the girls' daily text messenging feedback to bend his story in directions they will favor. He's filthy rich, and has movie coming out too; the dog.

Watch TV. There is something called One Seg and because of it everyone has been watching TV on their phones. I don't get it. I like my big TV. But I guess if you are somewhere and want to catch the last minutes of a good game...

※Study. Could find no good links to this but because Japanese tend to commute for great lengths of time there are oodles of cell phone sites now that offer short studies. You can learn characters, foreign languages, loosen up your brain with math quizzes, just to name a few.

※As a navigational tool. Get lost in downtown Tokyo? Here ya go!

※Even as a way to quit smoking!

※Oh, and let's not forget a fashion accessory.

I guess the fancy thing to do now is to use real stones to decorate your phone. Here we have a Hello Kitty and Chanel fan.


Or, hey, how about Eddie Van Halen. {Although I personally stopped liking him back when he flipped me a bird. I was innocent!}

携帯eddie vh

And I even found a cell phone that does more than mine!


Oh gosh. Matt has thoroughly gotten me addicted to Youtube and I was hardly looking when I found this... a new movie, The Cell Phone Detective. The catch phrase is, "We just can't depend on adults!"

I can still not tell if Japanese movies try to B movies or if it just comes natural.