I had a dilemma this week when sitting down to write this post. I have the week off from my job (!) so I picked up some extra freelance editing work, and that means I’ve been spending a LOT of hours at home, in front of the computer.
But it’s summer, and no one wants to spend summer inside a hot apartment, tethered to a computer keyboard. (Also: the tendinitis typing limitations continue…)
So I’m going to attempt a return to the short-and-sweet-ness of my posts back when I started this blog almost 4 years ago, without getting super wordy about it.
Mitarashi dango (sweet mochi dumplings with a soy sauce glaze)
Last week I shared even more food photos from Japan, but I saved these street-food photos for last. Street food in Japan is not as plentiful or easy to find as it is in Korea, but it’s still always a treat.
In fact, I thought about calling this post “festival food” instead of “street food,” because the only time it’s really easy to find outdoor vendors selling food-on-a-stick in Japan is at festivals (like the cherry blossom viewing festival, summer fireworks festival, etc.), or, during the rest of the year, in little clusters of food stalls outside of shrines, temples, or other sites where tourists gather.
Last month I shared some food photos from my weekend visit to Seoul, S. Korea, which was the first stop on my way to two wonderful weeks of
eating showing Paula around and seeing friends in Japan.
So today I’m sharing the first half of the Japan food photos — check back soon for the second installment: Japanese street food!
A short and (literally) sweet post for you all today: I’m sharing my latest strategy to make weekday mornings less awful.
Just a little Sunday afternoon effort, and you’ll end up with a week’s worth of hearty breakfasts, waiting to be zapped in the microwave — perfect for all of us who love breakfast but hate mornings.
(There must be plenty of us, too, or we wouldn’t have two of the greatest inventions ever: all-day breakfast menus and breakfast for dinner.)
Paula and I spent a whirlwind less-than-72 hours in Seoul last month, hanging out with friends, recovering from jet lag, and doing all of the eating that we possibly could.
So instead of a recipe today, I’m sharing some of the food photos from our trip (Japan photos coming soon!).
I thought the coolest edible experience of this trip was our visit to a toshirak (lunch box) market. In the photo above, you can see kimchijeon (kimchi pancakes), lots of steamed mandu (dumplings), and a jar of coins, which are not actual South Korean currency — instead they’re just little tokens that you pay for, along with an empty bento-style container; then you use them to “buy” items to put in your lunch box along the market street.
Paula and I are back from our Seoul + Japan adventure!
Although from my perspective, it wasn’t so much an adventure as a nostalgia-fueled eating tour + a chance to introduce Paula to friends who hadn’t been able to travel all the way to California for our wedding.
Paula had never been to S. Korea or Japan before, so for her the trip had all of the elements of a good adventure: new countries, new languages, new cultures, new foods…
And some experiences were new to both of us, including going to a toshirak (lunchbox) market in Seoul, where you buy an empty bento-style container and get coins to trade in for street food along an alley. That and making the mistake of riding the Tokyo subway during morning rush hour (with luggage… oops!). And at the opposite end of the country, on a little island out west, enjoying freshly caught squid, dipped in ponzu, and miso soup made from a friend’s homemade miso paste!
Am I the only weirdo who can try a new dish once and fall so in love with it that I spend years thinking about it afterwards and/or trying to re-create it? I assume not, but I do think it takes a certain type of personality – a memory that’s often more sharply tuned to food than to certain books or conversations or other experiences (which I wish I could remember better) – to be nostalgic even for one-time edible experiences.
Actually, maybe that’s the underlying issue here: too much (food) nostalgia.
At any rate, it’s happened to me with more than one dish, and more than one ingredient, so that all of these experiences added up together have vastly expanded my food knowledge and cooking repertoire, or at least the cooking repertoire I hope to someday have.
And these random encounters with ingredients or dishes that take me by surprise and spark my devotion have really been what has driven me to get into the kitchen and try making something new – probably more than flipping through all of the cookbooks in my cookbook collection could ever do.
This exposure to newness is just one reason I appreciate the importance of traveling, of visiting new restaurants, of trying different items from the menu.