Gyoza

Growing up, one of my favorite meals was Chinese food from the take-out place near my family’s house in Brooklyn. The restaurant, which stood (and still stands!) across from the local police station and pizzeria, served up the typical rotation of heavily sauced and overly sweet Chinese-American favorites. We always ordered cold sesame noodles, garlicky stir-fried broccoli and beef, and sweet and sour chicken, with its cloak of bright orange sauce studded with juicy chunks of canned pineapple. This last dish was my favorite, for at the time it seemed like a delightfully sophisticated version of chicken nuggets.

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Ten in 2010

It’s January 18th, so I really have no excuse for being so behind on my “yearly roundup” posts.  Below, some of my favorite eats from 2010.  These should tide you over until my next post, which is coming shortly. (With a new recipe, too!)

Fried sweet potatoes at a festival in Tokyo

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Thinking of Home, and an Anniversary

Mt. Fuji at sunrise (December 2009)

I’ve thinking a lot lately about the idea of home and how it relates to belonging, to feeling rooted in a place.  It’s been a year since I left New York for Japan.  In that time, I’ve journeyed across this island as well as to more distant lands throughout Asia. Yet the more I travel, the more I long for a stable center, a place where I can return to, a community to contribute to and become a part of. Although the footloose feeling imparted by constant movement is exhilarating, it can also be equally exhausting.  Still, I know that 2011 will bring me to yet unseen corners of Japan (and beyond), and I couldn’t be more excited.

Living here has taught me a thing or two about survival – not in the physical sense, but rather the ability to accept and even welcome a certain degree of emotional vulnerability into everyday life. Last winter, I was a newcomer in a foreign land, unemployed, and very, very cold all the time.  By the time March rolled around, I wasn’t sure why I was in Japan at all.  This winter, I have a job (not to mention wonderful colleagues), a cozy (read: 15 m2) apartment, and most importantly, a small sense of belonging.  I’m still cold much of the time, but there are many other things to be thankful for.

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