Saturday, July 28, 2007

guilty cravings

3 months in Japan and I was joning for a real American brownie. Monday is my day off and I jumped on the tiny rail going downtown to the only place I can get this guilty treat. The train lets out into a large underground shopping mall with a large variety of bakeries, chocolatiers, grocery store, and my favorite - the import store. It's a magical place were they always serve a little paper cup with strong coffee just the moment I need it - as I walk in. I've tried half of the 10 curry mixes they have available and I'm also back today for our favorite green curry mix. It's the closest to we've found to matching the authentic Thai that we craved. I was also on the prowl for spaghetti sauce, the food of life for a pasta lover like myself. They had a wonderful selection as well, and I found a large Italian brand familiar to me - but it was on the expensive side. And of course, the brownie mix. Good ol' Betty Crocker. Overpriced as well, and completely worth it!

My 4 yr old son helped me stir in the oil, water, and egg ( breaking the measure cup in the process. oh well ). We made half a recipe - because it's gold - and baked it for 45 minutes in our combination microwave/oven. Our tiny apartment soon filled with the sweet chocolatey smell of baking brownies and that alone was worth the trip. It was a little too late to let our son eat sugar, so he was off to bed. But I slipped on some sandles and made a late trip to the market across the street and bought some vanilla Hagendaas - the tiniest container you've ever seen. My wife and I served ourselves and her eyes got big when she saw the size of the piece I cut. I was past guilt and scooped a large dallop of ice cream on top ( almost half the container gone ). We both smiled. "Itaidakimas" It was a little slice of heaven :)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

wandering the streets

So far we are having an "empty" rainy season, and today my son was with his grandparents, so I jumped on the chance for a private walk on this sunny, humid Sunday. I took a walk to down town Shin Shimizu; the friendly little port side city in Japan where we are staying for the next year. The streets were very quiet and mostly empty. The air smelled faintly of sea salt and fish. The sidewalk paved with coulourful bricks carefully interlocked to flex in temperture and seizmic preasures. All the growing things are green and exude a happily damp fresh air. I walked with my pack and iPod, taking long smooth strides and wanting to get a sweat going. I provided some mild interest for bored onlookers. It's a little unusual to see a gaijin in this part of Japan. I've seen only a handful of europeans since I arrived this April. It's a humbling experience to be an extreme minority. I see their curious and sometimes blank stares and I can not guess what they are thinking. I do not understand enough of what is running through the average Japanese person's mind. I'm beginning to grok the sense of duty, the sense of being watched. They are similar. Maybe they are thinking, "I wonder what he is thinking?" Perhaps we are a mirror.