I'm hooked on the above. Japanese-Indian food and Japanese sweet potatoes. I think because of the high standard of all bakeries in Japan, the naan at Indian restaurants has to be excellent to keep up and satisfy Japanese customers who are accustomed to really good bread. Naan (type of Indian/middle eastern oven-baked flat bread), as well as kimchi (Korean spicy pickled vegetables) in Japan are definitely sweeter than in the states. Since Japanese food tends to be sweet (like teriyaki...we even use sweet cooking wine in case the recipe doesn't call for any sugar), maybe the ethnic food caters to sweet taste buds. I have a sweet tooth and happily accept the possibly less-authentic versions of ethnic food. Until I visit India (hopefully someday!!) I won't know whether the Japanese-Indian or California-Indian is closer to the original.
Japanese sweet potatoes are everywhere, and many places sell fresh steamed sweet potatoes or stone-baked sweet potatoes that are ready to eat. Just like there are at least 5 kinds of potatoes that are white inside in the states, there are usually about 5 different varieties of sweet potatoes (but one kind of white potato). I often buy the steamed/baked ones and uncooked bags to bake in the oven wrapped in foil, and probably eat at least two a day. Hooked/fixed/obsessed/however you describe it, it's like dessert and a meal combined in one, and is perfect on its own without sauce or sugar. God made amazing things. I finally am starting to notice the variations between the yellow inside/purple outside sweet potatoes. I used to think they're potatoes, how different could they be? You'd be surprised! (This is five different kinds of sweet potatoes, all different textures and flavors)
I also am making the most of this abundant, affordable, fresh seafood from fish markets. It's crazy that one small pack of strawberries is about 500 yen (over $5) while a whole fresh mackerel can be 88 yen (less than $1) from a fish market. I'll wait to buy strawberries at Costco this summer and in the meantime buy fresh squid and seaweed for 300 yen combined. Pictured below:
Fresh seaweed (very crunchy, really good!), fusion (made up) bibimbap with raw tuna, uni, mixed sashimi, WHALE sashimi, seaweed salad, and mini squid, boiled.
I had Puerto Rican food for the first time at a new restaurant called Ramichan Cafe, run by the baseball player (Ramirez) Ramichan's wife from Puerto Rico. Lots of spices, fresh ingredients, plantains, meat and seafood.
The above portion was written almost two weeks ago...sorry for the delay! My internet connection has been really unreliable, and work has been busier than usual so I haven't gotten a chance to get back to the post and write. As fun as food is, it's not that important so I didn't want to post until I had something more substantial. Don't get me wrong, there are many benefits of food like praising God for taste buds, being able to enjoy variety, a channel for creativity, facilitating fellowship and spending time with people, maintaining health, etc, but it's nowhere near the core of what I really care about.
It has been over four months since I left home, and even thoughI have finally gotten adjusted to life here there are many challenges each day. Before I left, I asked God to put me in a place where I have no choice but to rely on Him, and that I will experience Him as my comforter. He has answered my prayer and drawn me so close that my thoughts, life, motivation, and everything would make no sense if He was removed. I am seeing more of how challenges bring to light things that I normally hide, like pride in wanting credit for something or wanting to control situations. I've had to go with the flow much more, like on Friday my 30 minute trip home turning into 2+ hours because of a train accident. For each situation, God has given me a response:
When I get frustrated or stressed about work:
Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
When I am down and discouraged, His response:
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
This comfort comes through His constant presence and love:
Isaiah 41:8-10, 13 But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand... For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
He has blessed me over and over again, often through other people. I never know what each day will bring, but I am confident in God's promise, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness." I'm glad to be weak so I can see clearly that God is working. His work is always beyond my imagination, as it should be! (which brings me back to one of my favorite verses)
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Post coming soon about sakura (cherry blossom) season and potluck cherry blossom viewing lunch with my favorite lunch group ladies from church.