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One of these things is not like the others, and it’s stout beer lamb stew

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beer lamb stew

Before you freak out, no, it’s really not poop that’s on the plate. It’s just really dark lamb stew, courtesy of a dark stout beer and a healthy dose of sofrito, which also turns dark when cooked. As you can tell, the beautiful flat bread on the side is to visually distract you from the black hot (and delicious) mess, and no, I didn’t make the flat bread.

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Growing up/old is not so bad, if you can make sirloin roast

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Happy New Year! Fuck the new year…I just turned another year old! (this is an Asian thing, particularly Korea and Vietnam. Doesn’t matter when your birthday is, when the new year comes, you’re a year older.) My facebook feed increasingly shows pregnancy and baby pictures, and I can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to say congratulations. I just cop out and click “like”. If there was a button for “I’m happy for you but it’s complicated” button, I’d click it. But that’s another story, for another day. Today, we talk about food.

We haven’t cooked any less that we did before, but time constraint usually means I have to come up with quick, simple, and not quite blog-worthy recipes on most days . Once in a while though, by happenstance, some thrown-together recipes come out so good that I actually make the effort to take pictures, meaning to document the recipe (mostly for myself), but by the time I got around to it, I already forget what I did, and all that’s left is the pictures.

That ends today! New Year resolution: blog about good, accidental recipes that no one will read, not even me, just so I can delude myself that I will remember to make it again/become famous!

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When you wish hard enough, tteokbokki will come

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I feel hateful towards everyone who’s healthy right now.
I have been battling a nasty cold since…NEW YEAR’S EVE! That’s right, on my way to a new year eve’s party, I started coughing, and by the time the new year came, was completely bed-ridden. I was on what was supposed to be my dream vacation, in which I stay inside an apartment in NYC to work (don’t judge; it’s very nice to write and think when you’re away) and only occasionally come out to try the best food NYC has to offer. I stayed inside alright, but couldn’t even muster any energy to work. So much for a happy new year! (my mouth started twitching from smirking too much at all the “happy new year”s people were posting on fb. Guys, wish harder. It’s not working!)

We just got back to Boston today, and the first thing I did was order soondubu jigae (Korean spicy tofu soup) from our favorite Korean restaurant. I was hoping the spiciness would help clear out the evil mucus, and it did. In fact, normally I wouldn’t order anything spicy from this restaurant, except bibimbap since the sauce is separated. I really thought I’d starve when we went to Korea last summer, if everything there was really as spicy, or spicier!, than Korean food in the US. Surprisingly, there were still a lot of non-spicy options, although the spicy options are as spicy as you’d fear them to be. The spiciness is strangely refreshing when paired with hwe, the Korean-style raw fish. Hwe most often includes different types of fish than Japanese sashimi, and is cut in such a way that the texture is more on the chewy side, with all the sinew of the fish still intact.
hwe korean raw fish sashimi

For other dishes, the spiciness really impaired my ability to enjoy the food. I ordered hwe nangmyun (cold noodle with raw fish), hoping they’d be nice like Korean restaurants in the States and put the sauce aside, but no:

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And so I met the Emperor and Empress of Japan

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日本学術振興会主催の「JSPSサマー・プログラム歓迎レセプション」に出席された天皇、皇后両陛下(11日、神奈川県葉山町)=代表撮影

It was a surprise, really. No one knew anything about it before. They discreetly slipped a notice in our info package of the day, saying the Emperor and the Empress are visiting since they’re vacationing nearby. In the notice and every announcement that happened every 15 minutes afterwards, they kept emphasizing “Please wear your casual summer wear” and “the Emperor and Empress want to have a casual chat” with us. And if you’re wearing a suit jacket, you should take it off. I swear the word “casual” was repeated at least 15 times. It’s like the dentist telling you, “no, it’s not gonna hurt”, and it always fucking hurts. If it was so “casual”, you wouldn’t say it so damn much!

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Japan, 5 years 1 month later

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View from my room - the school is on top of a mountain

View from my room – the school is on top of a mountain

I’m in Japan, and will be for the next 3 months or so. This blog will be temporarily co-opted to be used as a travel blog, even though I’m really here for work, not travel. Obviously there will still be many many food posts. I also have to write up about my Korea trip still. I don’t have a particular coherent plan for this, but it’s my blog, so I’ll do whatever I want damn it!