Food for My Soul

Food for My Soul

“If you strip everything away that person has,  including clothes, shoes, hat, job he/she has, what kind of car, titles so forth.  Family, friends, obligations, tasks, home, money, experience, past, future, I mean everything.  Now take a look at person again.  If you are still in love with that person, that’s the one” – unknown

I am leading a fortunate life because I do have that person.

Transformation of Two Beloved Birds: Road to Pho Ga from Free-Range Farm

Transformation of Two Beloved Birds:  Road to Pho Ga from Free-Range Farm

So, there were two chickens, running around a field.  Being outside, eating healthy food and getting exercise builds nice muscles, especially on their thighs.  Also, with them running around freely, it makes them stress-free.  Well, maybe not completely “free” from stress but they have way less stress than caged ones.


Those 2 birds ended up at my house and my dear friends and I enjoyed tasting them so much.  I oven-roasted them with winter vegetables (blogged on 1/17) and also consumed 4.5 bottles of red wine as well.  Next morning, as you can guess, we were not as happy as the night before due to dehydration and headache.  What does Asian mother say when you have hangover?  “Eat your noodle soup!” or “Eat your miso soup!” or “What an idiot!” I decided to follow my mom’s voice.  Noodle soup!


Let’s use those birds then.  Carcasses into pot and shimmer for an hour, then add Royal Boat brand fish sauce and fresh squeezed lime juice.  There soup is ready.  Then cook rice noodle and add to the soup. Garnish with cilantro and grated yuzu (glorious Japanese citrus: on top.  After this, my hangover is magically gone because of togetherness of umami from chicken, tanginess of lime, saltiness of fish sauce, freshness of cilantro, then with delightful, sweet and tender aroma of yuzu.  Flat rice noodle is well coated with this simple yet magnificent soup.  Nothing was left in my bowl, not even a drop of the soup.

Thank you, healthy chickens.  Because of you, I am getting right amount of protein, ready to build nice muscles and I feel “cage-free” from the crappy headache.

2014 – 1955 = 59

2014 – 1955 = 59

39 years.  I have been carrying something I should have dealt with and worked through about 20 years ago.  Though I still carry it around and it is quite heavy.

“Have you ever been hurt and the place tries to heal a bit , and you just pull the scar off of it over and over again”  Rosa Parks said, and yes, I have.  The place tries to heal a bit, is still raw but I am used the pain so I don’t feel it any more.  Once in a while, the place reminds me that it is still there and I remember how the pain feels like.  I don’t have any intention to associate my own personal experience which I haven’t done shit about to make it better to Rosa’s courageous action.  However, it is comforting to know Rosa felt the same way that I do.

Rosa Parks did not give in.  She said, “No, the only tired I was, I was tired of giving in.”  I did.  I gave in.  I let them do whatever they want because it was easier for me.  It must have been easier for Rosa to move to the back of the bus, but she didn’t because she was not giving in.


In 1955, Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat on the bus.  She may not have meant to do something extraordinary by that action but it brought significant impact to the United State and other countries 59 years ago.  It has been 59 years.  What’s astounding is that we still are not able to leave behind what Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X and most importantly, those who never gave in did back then.  Heartbroken and angering incidents happen almost every single day.

In 1975, it started and lasted for 12 years.  I was sitting the back of the bus.  I gave in, have been scared and been running away from it.  I have been letting it haunt me whenever it wants to. About 3 weeks ago, my mother called and let me know one of main people I have been running away from called her.  I am 4,800 miles away from those people and I should be safe.  But how did I react?  I froze. Immediately I put my invisible shield on and tried to hide from it.  What baffles me is that I am still doing the same shit since 1975.

I don’t think I can do this without my best friend.  He never leaves my side and does nothing but comfort me and let me know it is going to be OK.  With him and Rosa Parks, I will need to face it and forgive.  It sure is scary but one day I must, as Rosa did not give up her right to sit wherever she wants to on the bus.  I have the right to live sorrow-free life.

“Each person must live their life as a model for others” – Rosa Parks 

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… (no words needed)

… (no words needed)

I love taking a nap.  Naps are magical.  After taking a nap, all of my body parts and soul were revitalized.  It is 3 pm and OK, I have 2 and half hours until two friends are coming to our place for dinner.

These pretty birds, 2 of them, have been taking a nap for quite a while.  Not a typical nap, they have been bathing as well …with salt and lemon.  It is time to wake them up.  They are rested well and their body should be rejuvenated, and their soul, should be, uh well, good(?).  Salt and lemon make their skin look gorgeous.  Now, I even make them look prettier with quartered lemons, garlic and fresh thyme inside of their bellies.  Then I coat their bodies with melted butter.  Lots of butter.


Following this, they go to an even warmer place, the oven, with winter vegetables such as fingering potatoes, rutabaga, renkon (lotus root), parsnips, carrots, brussel sprouts, leeks and onions that Washington state small farmers grew with TLC. They get to enjoy the heat for about an hour and half.

Naps are magical, I said.  Naps make (almost) everything better.  I have proof here because these chickens tasted just delightful as the 4 of us got quiet for a while when we started eating them.  Sometimes no words are needed to express how delicious the food is.

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Seattle Winter Blues: Convoy Coffee has a solution for you

Seattle Winter Blues:  Convoy Coffee has a solution for you

I do not want to see anyone, do not talk to anyone, do not want to do anything for anyone.  I just want to eat, read, hang out with my dog and drink coffee.  That’s it.  That’s all I want to do, kind of like hibernating.  Wait…coffee?

We are lucky, we really are.  We have quite a few neighborhood farmers markets all through the year just within city of Seattle. I go to U-District Farmers Market near University of Washington every Saturday Morning.  This farmers market has this Japanese farmer who grows and sells Japanese vegetables that you cannot buy at any other farmers markets or regular grocery stores.  Also U-Dist farmers markets seems to have more vendors and variety.  I love small vegetable farmers, butchers, fishermen, mushroomerries, bakers, beer brewers, tea makers, ginger-ale brewers, honey farmers, fermented food producers, poets with 1948 Royale typewriters are all together and showcasing their at-most quality produce (and poem) from all over Washington state.  Most importantly they are sharing their passion.

About a month ago, my nose was detecting something splendid, it’s called coffee at the market.  I approached them and started to talk about this coffee they were serving that day, “Ethiopian Wanago.”


It smelled just like strawberries!  That means these beans make a cup of coffee that I would love.  Lots of people tend not to like citrusy and fruity coffee but I do.  I am in love with it.  Their shop is called “Convoy Coffee,” they only offer pour over and aeropress.  No lattes, no caramel macchiato, no damn pumpkin spice latte.  Perfect.

When I woke up, I was feeling like I was a bear.  I just wanted to hibernate but I forced myself to get out of the bed and I headed down to the market even thought it was (of course) raining and chilly.  And these smiley people were making coffee by spreading their love and passion for coffee.  He knows what kind of coffee that I like so he recommended “Guatemala Hanapu” roasted by Kuma (means bear in Japanese.  Ha) Coffee in Seattle, WA.  I ordered a cup of aeropress.  The impressive acidity sits in the middle of tongue and spreads slowly.  It was a quintessential combination of acidity, mild bitterness, kindness, tenderness and joy.


Thank you Convoy Coffee, you took my hibernation desire away.  I will see you next Saturday.

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Art of Eating Ramen: Properly

Art of Eating Ramen: Properly

No, you are not offending anyone or being improper.  It’s OK, you have a permission.

BIG slurp!  There you go.


It’s winter and cold outside, and it’s perfect timing to tackle a bowl of ramen.  Properly.  Eating a bowl of ramen is art, y’all.  If you are like me (rebellious), this is a perfect food because you get to do something your mother taught  you NOT to do.  You get to make some noise while eating.

First, you need to know exactly what you want to have.  Shoyu (soy sauce), Miso, Shio (salt), Tonkotsu (thick pork broth).  Then thick or thin noodle?  Heavy stock or lighter stock?  Extra pork meat, bean sprouts, corn or bamboo shoots?  Know exactly what you want, otherwise wait staff won’t wait forever for you to decide.  I actually recommend to practice on what to order outside of the shop for a couple of times.

Then, you go in.  Usually ramen shop is relatively small.  Most of ramen shops I like in Japan only have counter seats so pick your seat and sit down, quickly.  Ramen guy behind the counter or wait staffs are not really talkative since the shop is running 186 miles per an hour.  This is why it would be helpful if you know what you want.  Anyway, you tell them what you want to eat.  Omit “how are you” and “I heard your ramen is delicious!” because they know they make awesome ramen and they cannot waste time being social.  Ramen is serious business, everyone.

I also recommend to go to ramen shop alone or with someone whom you don’t need to worry about carrying on a conversation with because ramen must be eaten at the moment it’s served.  You need to eat your bowl quickly.  If you are from South, you may have a hard time but this is not proper time to eat it daintily.  Why?  The longer noodles sit, they start to suck up the soup into the noodles because the noodles are made of flour. They are like a sponge and they get all mushy (yikes).  Not only that the ramen does not taste as it should after noodles suck up all the soup, also that might upset ramen shop owner.  You don’t want that at all. That said, I would not recommend you to go to the ramen shop on your first date.  If she or he is delighted to go to your favorite ramen noodle place with minimal conversation, congratulations, you just found your soul mate.

So now, how do you eat it fast with correct manner?  Big slurp with noise!  Making some noise is a huge part of eating ramen bowl artistically and properly because it has a cooling effect.  Who knew, right?  We Japanese do.  Our slurping training starts in the mother’s womb.

Oh, don’t forget…Hashi (chopsticks) in one hand and renge (ceramic spoon) in the other hand and embrace them both.  That will help you immensely to taste a perfect marriage of noodle and carefully and deliciously prepared soup.  If you want to look like you are a pro, pick up your bowl and take last drops soup from the bowl at the end.  Ramen shop guy would be impressed, I promise.

Think of it as riding a bicycle for the first time, practice, practice and practice.

OK, ready?  Slurp!  Make some noise.  Proudly.

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William Saroyan and Macaroon: and Chihuahua

William Saroyan and Macaroon: and Chihuahua

“Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep.  Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell.  And when you get angry, get good and angry.  Try to be alive.  You will be dead soon enough.” 

Today is one of those days and I needed that.  My head is not clear as it feels like I am underwater, not seeing or hearing anything.  My body feels heavy and all I want to do is to go back to my warm, comfortable bed with my overweight 9-lb. chihuahua.  It is January in Seattle (=gloomy) so maybe I am affected by weather.  Who knows.

It sounds like this quote is written by someone who studies Buddhism but this is actually a quote by William Saroyan.  I read “Papa You are Crazy” when I was in junior high and since then I always loved his stories.  I found this wonderfully honest quote in my journal earlier today.  This is exactly what I want to feel.  With that, I am going to get some macaroon (for some reason I am craving for it) after work for dinner, hop on my bed and snuggle with my chihuahua.  I will read William Saroyan, might as well.


I am sure I feel I am alive after macaroon, dog and Saroyan tonight.  After that, I will really try to sleep when I sleep.

One Japanese word to remember: Oishii!

One Japanese word to remember: Oishii!

Asian mothers…they are so mother.  They are always worrying about your well-being, especially if you are well fed.  I grew up in that kind of household in Japan.  What still echoes in my ear is these words, “have you eaten?”  My mom’s signature line.

Now I do that even though I am not a mother.  I am constantly asking like “are you hungry?” or “do you want to eat more?” Last night, I made seared ahi (nice reddish pink in the middle…perfect) and arugula, cilantro and kale salad with ponzu sauce. That fills my tummy and soul.  Pure deliciousness.

If you travel to Japan and happen to meet my mother, she probably would ask you “have you eaten?” and if you haven’t, she would cook for you.  Her dishes are all tasty, I guarantee you.

So, here is one word you need to memorize just in case you meet her there.  “Oishii!!” = Pure Deliciousness.

Tokyo Bandwagon: this book saved my life

Tokyo Bandwagon:  this book saved my life

That was only one book I was able to read and comprehend.  It was the only book that woke up my brain and all my senses.  I was able to cry and I felt the pain for the first time since he passed.

There are 2 things I can’t live without, good food and good books.  Sometime in 2007, I was struggling hard.  I could not eat and could not read.  I tried and tried to open many books and read but my brain was not processing any letters, words, and sentences.  But finally I found one that I could read and feel and it is called “Tokyo Bandwagon” written by Yukiya Shoji, Japanese author.  I still haven’t figured out why this book was the only one I could read but it really does not matter.  The important thing is that this book made me realize that I was alive.  I just heard news about the brand new book (8th book of ongoing series) will be published this coming April and my heart jumped for joy.  Only 3 more months to go.

I am forever thankful.  This book saved my life.

Library was my safe haven: Infinite Jest

Library was my safe haven: Infinite Jest

“That sometimes human beings have to just sit in one place and, like, hurt. That you will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do. That there is such a thing as raw, unalloyed, agendaless kindness. That it is possible to fall asleep during an anxiety attack. That concentrating on anything is very hard work.”
David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

From age 7 to 17, School and home were not safe place to be.  Library was my only safe haven and place to, like, hurt. This quote from Infinite Jest is totally needed for my soul today.  Digging deep.