Monday, January 02, 2006

Japanise Dishes

Wow! What fantastic food!

Yuki and Miko invited us over for a typical Japanese meal last evening. Many of the dishes reminded me of my mother-in-law's cooking. But each of these dishes take great preparation. Each was prepared and presented perfectly. For example, the egg sushi was presented in a flower painted lacquer box.

They also invited some friends that were visiting from Japan. Jim and Shirley, their landlords, also came down for the meal. (Yuki and Miko rent the downstairs apartment from them.)

Now, Jim is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. His diet reminds me of what my dad likes to eat. Jim works in an auto-body repair shop beating on fenders and radiators. He's been in several motorcycle and car crashes when he was a kid. (One time he told me about waking up just after an accident. His car was wrapped around a telephone pole. He looked down at the Buick's metal dashboard and saw two concave impressions where his knees had been. If you get Jim to tell you some of his stories, you'll wonder how he's still alive. Jim's a man's man.) Anyway, I was very interested in how he was going to handle all this sushi stuff. It's a very different kind food. But he was great. Miko even showed him the ancient Japanese tea ceremony. Jim performed it perfectly.

After dinner and before desert we entertained ourselves with origami and a great discussion about lotus plant root. (One of the plants used in our meal.) Then we got to show our guests some table tricks.

Over the years we've collected several table tricks. So after dinner Ruth entertained us with her chopstick pickup trick. Here's how you set it up:

1) Snap a disposable chopstick in half (leave the wood connected)
2) Break the other chopstick cleanly in half
3) Form a tripod by leaning the single halved chopstick against the snapped V-shaped chopstick
3) With an unbroken single chopstick try to pick up the entire tripod (no hands please)

While she was occupying them with that table trick, I was setting up the toothpick star. Here's how to set it up:

1) Snap five toothpicks at the center (leave the halves connected)
2) Place them in a star formation on the smooth table
3) Apply a single droplet of water at it's center
(Works best with flat toothpicks.)

All had a good time guessing how to pickup the chopstick tripod. But the evening was not over.
When Eric was young we used to do light painting photography. It's easy to do with a manual camera. You set it for BULB (or hold the shutter open) and have someone "write" a word using a flashlight. Then finish with a flash. Here's an image of me writing my name using a Mini Mag Lite. What makes this tricky for the writer is that they must write backward since they are facing the camera. I've done this many times with my old manual equipment but wanted to try with my new Nikon digital D70.

I thought it would be kind of cool to have one of our Japanese guests "light paint" their name in their own language. Hiro volunteered and here you see a Japanese character for "Hiro." Remember, this is not for the backward challenged. In order for the picture to come out correctly (at least without Photoshop) you have to write your name backward. After some brief instructions in English and translated into Japanese, Hiro did a great job! Thanks Hiro.

Hiro and his sister also helped the boys write their names in Japanese. Jason, Eric's friend from Hawaii, has been learning Japanese for two years. He is Okinawan and has a Japanese name but has never learned to write it. Ruth's Japanese name, Sumiko, is pictured here. What beautiful calligraphy.

After a bowl of sweet brown bean soup and mochi (rice cake) we finally had to say goodbye.

If you don't go into the cave of the tiger, how are you going to get its cub? -Chinese Proverb
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. -English Proverb