Monday, February 13, 2012


I got my hands on a volume of Oishinbo a la Carte by Tetsu Kariya and art by Akira Hanasaki, thanks to sopraninigabi, who lent it to me. Now I want to eat Japanese food in Japan. It doesn't help that my Ate went there last week and wouldn't let me stuff myself into her luggage.

Oishinbo is a Japanese manga about cooking and eating. The manga I borrowed is an English-translated compilation (like a "best of") printed by VIZ Media, and the volume is called, plainly enough, "Japanese Cuisine."

But the book is far from plain! It makes you appreciate the little details that go into the humdrum task of cooking ordinary food (for in Japan, the sashimi, the miso soup and the rice are all "ordinary" fare.)

Did you know that making sashimi is not merely a process of cutting fresh fish and serving it on a fancy plate? It requires long hours of practice with a knife to get the fish sliced while keeping it firm. And here I am just eating my sashimi without thinking about how hard the person who put it on my plate practiced just so I can get my fill!

In one chapter (or "course," as it is put in the manga), an artist called Miyasato invited the main characters Shiro, Yuko and Tomio (journalists) to a lunch at his place to settle the matter of a cover page illustration he had previously promised their newspaper. When they got there, they learned that the rival paper was also trying to get the same cover illustration for their Sunday edition. Miyasato said he could only choose one publication, so it all boiled down to who could judge best whether the cooking was good or bad (the connection being if they understood the food, then they would understand the art, too).

The men from the other paper flattered the artist, even if obviously the meal was plain home-fare, and nothing like what they serve at first-class restaurants. So Shiro took the honest route and said, "All the food we had today is home cooking. It's common, everyday food and there's nothing special about it."

Then he continues, "But it is a real gochiso. The word gochiso not only means 'feast,' but also 'to run' or 'rush.' The host rushes around to gather the ingredients, get them ready, and then cook the food. The vegetables and chicken were homegrown, and you must have sought out the halfbreak and quail yourself. Miyasato Sensei expended a lot of effort to treat us to this meal. The dishes we had are all common ones so that we'd easily be able to compare them with versions we've eaten before. For the wakame and green onion with miso, you pulled the onions out of your own vegetable patch, and you also used fresh wakame and homemade miso. And that's why it tasted so much better than usual. The care you've put into getting all these dishes ready is what made this a real gochiso."

"First course: The secret of dashi." Yamaoka Shiro demonstrates how to make kombu dashi. Kombu is a type of edible kelp. Dashi is a Japanese stock, used as basis for many dishes. (Read it from right to left.)

We can learn a lot from the Japanese in this way: if we put enough care into all our endeavors, we can make a gochiso of all the ordinary things we do--whether or not it involves cooking!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fr. Brown

I got a sampling of G.K. Chesterton's Fr. Brown mysteries from the little grey and white penguin editions of classic short stories, and I've got to admit I'm hooked!

The mysteries are interesting, the detective priest very clever, and of course, the writing is just beautiful! Before I get into fangirling mode, maybe I should just shut up and share one story, so you can see for yourself. The link below goes to The Blue Cross. Enjoy!

The Blue Cross by G.K. Chesterton


My doctor told me to exercise, so I started walking in the morning. But that was not enough. I used to do yoga, but it burned a huge hole in my pocket, so I decided that getting fit need not be a financial burden. And now here I am doing Les Mills Body Vive, an exercise dance thing that came free with Nestle Fitnesse Cereal.

My friend lent her CD to me when I told her I needed to exercise. She said it was good because the exercises were doable, and more importantly, the instructors were dressed decently. The women were wearing jogging pants and shirts with sleeves--none of those midriff bearing little things--and the men were in t-shirts and pants. Of course, rubber shoes for all.

Looking good
What I notice about the fitness culture is how closely intertwined it is with looking good. Certainly, you work out because you want to look great--and you do, because it makes you healthy and strong. But the "looking good" I'm talking about now is that seeming need for us to "look good playing the game."

Want to be a cyclist? It's not anymore just a matter getting a bike and safety paraphernalia; somehow you are convinced that you need to wear sporty spandex and reflective goggle things. Jogging is not anymore merely putting on a pair of rubber shoes and hitting the pavement, suddenly you need state-of-the-art running shoes that help you burn more calories and some kind of state-of-the-art music player to keep you entertained (distracted?) while running. Yoga gives you a run for your money with yoga-bras, yoga-pants, or if you don't like pants, yoga-bikini bottoms. (I say, just wear leggings, a t-shirt that fits just right, and your normal underwear.)

Anyway, that just makes exercise a more expensive affair, when in fact exercise should be free and attainable by all. The best outfit for exercise is something that you can move in that's neither too tight nor too loose. If you want to look truly good, you have to make an effort to be decently dressed. Why? The most flattering effect of exercise is the glow on your face after a sprint... would anyone notice that if they're looking at your bare midriff or short shorts?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pure love blog

I’ve been thinking of concentrating on one “branch” of the pro-life cause for the past year already, and finally, a few months back, I started this new blog called Main Squeeze. It’s a blog for the youth, and it’s about pure love, chastity, and modesty in a world that says they don’t matter.

From my first post:

Pure love, or chastity, is needed so much nowadays, because many things in the mainstream media and the youth culture have made the impression that the opposites of chastity, purity and modesty are way cooler. This blog is not "free PR" for chastity. It's not here to sell the idea of chastity to unsuspecting youth. Instead, it is here to show that living the virtue is possible for anyone (singles, marrieds, and even those with a past)... and results in a person who is happy and free!
Hope you can visit!