Tag Archives: grandma

Grandmother Curry

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Grandmother Curry

I would bet a bazillion, no, a gazillion dollars that my grandmother never, ever, not once in her entire life, made curry and rice. And I’d be willing to bet almost the same amount again that she never even tasted it. But as I’ve mentioned before in these sacred pages, curry and rice is mac and cheese to the Tokyo taste bud, soul food, a taste of home, of childhood, of comfort, of permanence in this all too transient world.

What my grandmother did make was really great vegetable soup. I remember once, in my snotty childish way, I asked my mother why grandma’s veggie soup tasted so good (with ‘better than yours’ implicit). She just sighed and said, “She puts sugar in it.”

And that got me thinking about our relative attitudes toward sugar. I read recently that America’s obesity is not altogether our fault. Yes, fast food and large sodas and triple scoop ice cream cones are personal choices, but apparently there is hidden sugar in nearly every product in American supermarkets.

I think that’s less true of Japanese food. In traditional cooking, sugar is added to most dishes, but we’re talking a teaspoon of sugar in a dish that serves four people. If there’s dessert at all, it’s most likely fresh fruit. So while sugar is rarely added to main dishes in Western food, our desserts usually start with a full cup of sugar, often more, and don’t forget to add eggs, butter, cream and chocolate.

Thoughts of my grandma also brought back thoughts of childhood fun, like summer fairs and carnivals, where we ate cotton candy, candy apples, caramel corn–in other words, sugar, sugar, sugar. Of course, sugary things are available here, but it is not uncommon to see a kid at a summer festival happily chomping on a cucumber skewered on a chopstick, perhaps with a bit of miso or salt, perhaps plain. Healthy, cooling, sugarless.

I suppose it is possible that my grandma had a secret life where she made and consumed curry with gusto. Perhaps she spent her summers following the country fair circuit, traveling around dispensing curry and rice from the back of a brightly painted van. If she did, I’ll bet another gazillion dollars that she put sugar in it.

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An Easter Tale

Easter bunny

When I was a little girl, someone gave me a large white chocolate Easter bunny. I proceeded to eat most of it and became violently ill. There was nothing wrong with the chocolate; I was merely a victim of my own greed. Ever since, I have never been able to eat white chocolate.

If you’ve been following this blog, you are aware of my steamy relationship with a lovely tart. This was started by le pirate, a food blogger extraordinaire. I just love her recipes—never pretentious, always irresistible—and delivered as if she is standing in the kitchen with me. It reminds me of cooking with my grandmother.

Grandma: Add some sugar.

Me: How much?

Grandma: Some.

And eventually I developed a sense of just how much “some” is.

So when I saw the recipe for Lemon White Chocolate Cake, I knew at once that I had to make the acquaintance of any batter that could actually make a person swoon.

It didn’t. And the smell of melting white chocolate was hard to take, but the finished cake…

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Check out her pictures.
They’re much prettier than mine.

…was truly one of the finest things I’ve ever tasted. It was whiskers on kittens, brightly colored butterflies, baby unicorns, all the good things in the universe and some others that don’t yet exist.

Cake is plentiful here, but invariably sponge with whipped cream frosting, which is fine, but I didn’t realize how much I miss cake that tastes like…well…cake.

Thank you, le pirate. Grandma would have been proud.