What an original title...which reminds me, earlier this evening a Japanese girl I recently met asked me to explain sarcasm because an American acquaintance used the word in a message. I compared it to "tsukkomi," a form of Japanese joking, but explained it as meaning basically the exact opposite of what is actually said. I then realized it sounds a lot like lying. With many international student friends this past year, sarcasm has probably been the hardest American thing to explain, much less try to communicate how it could be funny! I spent the first half of New Year's Day with my grandma eating Ozouni (New Year's soup with mochi) and Osechi (Japanese New Year's dishes). There are countless variations for each dish. For Ozouni, the soup base can be fish/seaweed stock, chicken stock, or miso flavor, and the mochi is grilled or boiled depending on where you're from. I was grateful for my mom making New Year's food every year, and making it with her the past few years so I wasn't completely lost in what to buy or how to make things. There are so many things my parents did that I now finally understand and am grateful for.
Then the second half I spent with a friend from church and her family, eating round 2 (plus more!) at my friend's home. Her dad loves to go to the Tsukiji market weekly where there are tons of specialty shops for Tamagoyaki (sweet egg omelette rolls), Katsuobushi (dried bonito), Ofu (wheat gluten...? sounds awful translated), eggs, meat, etc. It is most famous as the world's biggest fish market but the surrounding market also has lots of history. I love the specialty shops all over Japan, anything from places that make only Taiyaki (fish shaped red bean pastry) to pickled vegetables shops. It is amazing to me, being more accustomed to giant grocery stores, that these places stay open for decades! Until the food topic came up I thought my friend's dad was reserved, but after my enthusiasm was evident as a fellow food lover we spent the whole evening and the next morning talking about shops, cooking, and places to visit and eat in Tokyo (specifically to take my boyfriend when he comes).
He introduced me to different types of dried bonito flakes, furikake (dried rice condiments), and I was fascinated about the endless varieties and specific uses of each! The depth of my Japanese foodie adventures is growing. I'm starting to understand how there can be so many specialty shops even next to each other selling the same type of product. That must mean I barely know anything compared to most Japanese people who keep those places going.
Then round two, officially dinner: Sukiyaki (Japanese hot pot cooked in an iron pot, dipped in raw egg) and Ozouni (New Year's soup with mochi).
The time with her family was an unexpected, completely undeserved blessing. I was humbled by her family's hospitality and challenged by my constant "on the go" habit because of how relaxed they were. I often think in task lists instead of enjoying and making the most of each moment. I usually interpret that as "maximize efficiency" more than actually making the most of my time, which could mean just sitting still at times! My impatience has been apparent especially through my grandma because it has been hard to be joyful and loving while she is forgetful and negative, yet wants to talk for a long time.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 2 Corinthians 5:14
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4~