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Taste of Japan

posted Nov 13, 2010, 2:07 PM by Akemi Shuto   [ updated Nov 13, 2010, 9:18 PM ]

I was busy preparing dinner for six one morning. Then just before 10 am, the phone rang. Reluctantly, I quickly washed my hands and picked it up. I heard an excited voice: it was a friend telling me to turn on the radio and listen to the KQED Forum program. This public radio discussion program covers a wide variety of topics and that morning, they were featuring participants from a conference called "Japan: Flavors of Culture" that was taking place in St Helena, California, that weekend. It was, according to the website, the largest conference of Japanese food specialists ever in the US. Also according to the host of the program, Japanese restaurants have doubled in number in North America between 1996 and 2006. 

Was this a sign or what? I listen to the news on KQED every morning but am not usually tuned in after 9 am unless I am driving. My friend who had called me told me that I should call in to the program and mention my work and this web site. My initial reaction was "No, I don't think so".  But when I started to listen to the program, I was immediately drawn in to the depth of understanding of the guests. I was especially impressed by Ms. Elizabeth Andoh who was born and raised in the US and now lives in Japan as an established writer and lecturer specializing in Japanese food and culture. 

As I heard her speak about the importance of mindfulness in Japanese cuisine and culture, I began to feel the desire to share my rediscovered passion and how the Ichigo Ichie concept is reflected on every level of my meal preparation. For instance, I had been planning this dinner for six for a long time. However, the weather had turned very unpredictable in the last few days. So I had to think carefully about whether to prepare something suitable for a hot day even though we were in the middle of autumn where the choice of seasonal vegetables was more appropriate for dishes to warm people up.

So I decided to take the plunge and picked up the phone to dial the KQED number. It was busy. So I took a deep breath. Redialed, busy again. Third time lucky, I got through to a call screener and she asked me what would I like to talk about. I told her how glad I was to hear that interest in Japanese cuisine was spreading beyond normal restaurant fare and that the spirit of hospitality and attention to detail were being more fully appreciated by professional chefs as well as diners themselves. The call screener liked my comments and told me that I would be on air after couple of other callers. So I asked her if it was okay to mention my newly launched web site and she said sure go for it! Then my memory is all a blur. I think I spoke very fast about too many things but I think I got some points across. The friend who told me about the program heard me live and said that I sounded fine. Everything came out great, he told me. What a nice thing to hear! I suspect he is being very kind because I am too self conscious to listen to myself on the archive.

But the program itself was very interesting and informative. So if you are genuinely interested in the flavor of Japan, please check out the archive at http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201011041000

Just a few hours ago I saw that a listener had posted a comment on KQED's website. She remembered that I had talked about Ichigo Ichie and she had tried to find my web site but couldn't. I have now replied to her via Facebook. Happy ending, oh no, happy beginning, I hope!

A return to origins

posted Oct 30, 2010, 10:04 AM by Akemi Shuto   [ updated Oct 30, 2010, 3:36 PM ]

I am very happy to launch my web site today on what happens to be the tenth birthday I've celebrated since I moved to the Bay Area. I have been pleasantly surprised that the more time I have spent living away from my original home country of Japan, the more I have felt attracted to the way of life I grew up with. Maturing beyond the heady days of one's youth does this to you, that's true. But the process of hosting more meals than ever throughout the last couple of years made me realize just how much cooking and sharing delightful food with people means to me.
 
 
Thank you to all who gave me the impetus to rediscover this passion for cooking and to enhance respect for my own culture. I look forward to introducing you to some of the secret wonders of Japanese cuisine.

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