Tag Archives: sugar

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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Weary, Bleary, Teary

Coming up on the 14th hour in the studio, I glance through my calendar and realize I haven’t had a day off in the past 12. I guess that explains my foggy head.

Yes, I am at work…still. There are barely a dozen English lines in the video, but I have to be here and I have to stay until the bitter end, while every tiny detail gets discussed into oblivion, and all I really want to do is curl up in a corner and snivel.

I hit the energy wall a couple of hours ago and we had nothing nothing left to snack on but sembei, so I trotted over to the convenience store and cleaned them out of chocolate, then downed an entire Snickers bar in three bites, something I haven’t done since high school. A sampling of other treats followed along with a sprinkling of potato chips for good measure, all topped off with a cup of tepid coffee.

The cast and crew descended on the delectable trove with gusto and gratitude, but I dread what will happen when we come out of our diabetic trance. Perhaps the studio staff will arrive in the morning and find us strewn about the floor semiconscious, arms and legs splayed at awkward angles, eyes bloodshot, hair disheveled, puddles of drool adorning the cool, concrete floor.

Or not. Perhaps we will, as we always do, take a deep breath and persevere. It’s not like we can re-schedule. The number of people involved and the cost make that impossible. The thing that’s hard, though, is that they never ask. Everyone just assues you’ll stay until it’s done, regardless of whatever other commitments you might have. It’s very Japanese; we’re all in this together and complaining about it won’t make it any easier for anyone. In many ways, its a very sensible attitude.

So I will try to contain my temper and continue to chant my mantra:

I am grateful for the work. I am grateful for the work. I am grateful for the work.

I’llĀ  be a lot more grateful, though, once I’ve finally had a chance to wash my hair. I’ll bet everyone else would be grateful for that, too. And would it be so bad if I crept off and had a good cry? A couple of heaving sobs, at least?