Monday, May 21, 2007
Artist Date #1, a resounding success!
On Saturday I had my first Artist's Date. I had a hard time deciding what to do - it was later in the day than I'd intended because of a work commitment that ran long, and I was feeling tired and cranky by the time I got home. First thought was to visit a nearby museum, but that turned into a dud. Armand Hammer museum? Closed already for the day. Science Center: closed. Natural History museum: closed. I guess I'd assumed they'd be open later than five on Saturdays. I could have gone to the Getty, but I just wasn't feeling it. I almost just drove out for a long walk on the beach, but then I had a Very Bright Idea: Mitsuwa!
About six months ago I realized that the store I drove right past every time I went to Costco was a big, fabulous Japanese market - why it took me more than three years of living here to figure that out, I have no idea. And as I'd been wanting to go for quite a while but hadn't gotten around to it I decided it was a great spot for an Artist's Date.
When I was sixteen, I spent a month in Japan over the summer, living with a host family and then spending several days in Tokyo with the three other girls and one teacher who were on the trip with me. And Mitsuwa took me right back there: I found all of my favorite snacks and candies (Pocky! Super Lemon! Green tea ice cream! Melon flavored gum! Pretz sticks!), I got to attempt to pronounce the katakana and hiragana on the labels of all sorts of items (and then look at the markers on the aisles that so kindly offered the English version), I watched a few minutes of some Japanese tv shows on the monitors near the entrance, I hemmed and hawed over cute little bento boxes and rice bowls and chopsticks and other knick knacks that I eventually decided I really didn't need, and I got all the ingredients to make what is hands down my favorite meal ever.
And then the second part of my Artist's Date was coming home to cook myself some okonomiyaki! It's like a cabbage pancake, sort of. The name literally means "as you like," and it's a home-style dish that folks in Japan make with all kinds of extra ingredients thrown in. My host family made it for me, and we also went to a restaurant for the famou (in Japan) Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki (made with noodles) on our trip there, after visiting Peace Memorial Park. You make the pancake with cabbage, flour, water, an egg and a little dashi stock, and I put a couple of very thin slices of pork on it, and then top it with Japanese mayo, okonomiyaki sauce, bonito flakes and seaweed flakes. Heaven!
So I had a culinary date with my inner Artist, and loved every moment of it. And now I've got enough supplies to eat okonomiyaki again several more times this week. Yippee!