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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!

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How to make ramen broth (low effort, high payoff!)

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This random blue guitar on the street of Cambridge seems fitting with this post

This random blue guitar on the street of Cambridge seems fitting with this post

It’s been busy around here as I am getting ready for Japan, buying gifts, hanging out A LOT with friends, prepping for the study I’ll do over there, and generally moping about because I won’t see D until he joins me in mid-August. My schedule has been a bit crazy trying to force people to see me at least once before I leave :), so the other day when I suddenly had a free night, I called up a few friends to finally make the ramen night that we’ve been thinking about happen. They freaked a little bit (“I can’t make char siu in just a few hours!”- typical fastidious son of Chinese restaurant owners :P), but we got it sorted out somehow. I’ve made ramen a few times before, every time with a different complicated recipe. This time, since it’s been so crazy, I didn’t put a lot of effort in it, but it still turned out quite good, surprisingly. A Japanese friend came over last night to try to leftover, and gave me a thumb up of approval :) It might or might not be the proudest cooking-related moment of my life!

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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring or kake/kitsune/chikara/everything udon

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It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, the first 70F +, sunny day of spring, and the 5th or 6th day of assured warmth that makes people finally feel sane to put away their winter clothes. This is the best part of New England summer: just the right temperature, sun, and humidity. It’s the kind of day that makes me question even my decision to spend the next 3 months in Japan, because there are really so many wonderful things to do outside in New England during the summer.

And of course, on a day likes this, it only makes sense for me to stay in and blog about it.

…before you judge me: yes, I am going outside. In a little bit. What’s the point of being an atheist if you can’t stay in on a Sunday morning?