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Moms Are Everywhere

Moms Are Everywhere

The gentle women of the ryokan were fussing around, putting each plate just-so, wiping up a tiny little crumb from the table and making sure that each course was presented perfectly.  Our information indicated that we were not to worry if we didn’t eat everything, as many of the dishes were unfamiliar, and that gaijin were not expected to finish every bite.  But apparently, the authors were unfamiliar with one particular attendant in Karashiki… It started with simple instructions, all communicated in sign language and three words of English.  Put this sauce on this item…  Use this utensil to eat this small little delicacy…   Dip this squishy piece of something into that hot liquid and then eat…   And simple instructions can be useful and we appreciated the education. Then things got a little more intense.  After a bit of an incident (let’s just say that having  bar-b-que boyfriend cook his own fish over a flaming brazier is just asking for trouble…), she no longer trusted us to handle this kaiseki on our own.  Now we were instructed on EACH STEP of the meal, and any leftover food was looked upon as a personal insult to her serving abilities.   Every item had to be consumed (or hidden under the mashed potatoes I guess), so it soon became a battle of wits.  Luckily, afforementioned bar-b-que boyfriend eats all slimy food – so was able to help out in the complete consumption department. The next morning, our hovering “mom” also served us breakfast.   Load it up once again!  No item was allowed to go untouched – each one had to be consumed.  Luckily I had my food taster/tester along, so anything I didn’t want could be consumed by him.  But sometimes she hovered so closely, that I wasn’t able to pass off the unwanted items.  So I did resort to hiding them! So when they tell you that it’s OK for gaijin not to eat everything, just remember, moms are...
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Where’s the (Hida) Beef?

Where’s the (Hida) Beef?

So while in Takayama, we were told that the Hida beef was a “not to be missed” – and that some of the best available was at the Hotel Associa, outside of town, either at the regular kaiseki or at the Teppanyaki restaurant.  We hauled ourselves out there and sure enough, in addition to the great beef, we were also treated to the “meditation of the chef”.  One of the cultural wonders of Japan is the reverence with which so many people approach their craft, whether it’s the traditional arts or the art of service.  The care, temperance and almost wonder with which our chef prepared our dinner in front of us was somewhat of a spiritual experience.  Each course was perfectly cooked before us with a delicate hand and a watchful eye.   It’s almost hard to explain the essence of the experience, which involved not just the taste of the food, but the mastery with which it was prepared and presented.  The meal included several courses, but the final presentation of a perfectly cooked steak of hida beef is a not-to-be missed experience.   Warning – this stuff is not for the cholesterally challenged!!    Here’s a picture of David warming up for the...