you don"t need to save the crystal for a special day, even water tastes better in a "Fancy Glass"

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

the snail- the emblem of "slow food" Posted by Picasa

political food

I am a big believer in Slow Food. Mostly my food writing is upbeat, but today I found a passage on the slow food usa website that reminded me how serious and important the politics of food and the environment really is...

A sober thought, and a reason why we should all be concerned about food and the environment, and recognize that they are intertwined-

From - Carlo Petrini
Speech at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Conference

This is how I was convinced to become an environmentalist: I went to eat in a small restaurant in my own native territory near Turin. I had grilled sweet red peppers with olive oil and garlic, a specialty o f the Piedmont region. I tasted it, and there was something wrong with it. They just weren't that good. I asked, "Where do these peppers come from?" They said "Oh, they're from Holland." They were grown hydroponically. They were all identical. There were 32 to a box, not 31, not 33. "And they cost less than ours," the cook was proud to say. "And they last longer than ours." But of course, there was no pleasure of taste. And so I asked the farmers around this restaurant, "Hey, where are those local peppers you used to have around here?" And they said, "Well we just don't grow them anymore because we can't make money on them." And I said, "Well, inside those hot houses where you used to have red peppers, what do you have now?" And they said, " Tulip bulbs!"

And you may laugh, but in your hometown this is happening everyday. Look what you've got on your plate, and you'll see your red peppers come f rom Holland too. And tourists come to Piedmont because they are told there are famous red peppers. And this is the great cheat. There is cheating every day on our plates. There is deceit. we must go back to local agriculture, and go back to giving pride to these farmers, having a human rapport with these farmers.

Full speech at Slow Food USA
Make sure you care, make sure you have a relationship with where and who your food comes from. If each one of us starts to make more deliberate choices then we can and will reverse the trend o f too fast- too impersonal- before it is too late…


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My friend Terri and author, Neil Gaiman Posted by Picasa

Visiting VIPs

Over the years at Fujimamas (the restaurant I work at)we have had some pretty cool folks stop in. And of course we believe that all our guests are VIPS… but a few days ago we had a great little visit from Sci-fi Fantasy Author Neil Gaiman… one of my best friends and political compatriot, Terri, is a big fan of Mr. Gaiman’s and when she found out he was going to be in Tokyo on a short stop over- she wrote to his assistant and offered to show him some sights in the city.

Sure enough, it all worked out, And Terri, being the terrific friend that she is, and being almost as proud of Fujimamas as I am, brought him over for an afternoon original ginger lemonade in our café area.

Neil wanted sushi for dinner, which is not our specialty so after chatting with them a bit I sent them off to see some of the famous cos-play kids at Harajuku station and then off to a popular sushi and Japanese traditional food spot that is fun for visitors. I think they enjoyed it, though over on Neil's blog he admits to being back to the hotel by 8:30! Not a late night for sure, but then this layover in Tokyo came at the end of a “round the world ticket” so he certainly deserved the rest.

The best vip’s I have met in the restaurant biz- are “real” people who have their heads screwed on right and who have not let fame or success get the better of them. Neil was like that. Easy going, easy to talk to and quite charming.

Thanks for coming by Neil. Next time you have bring the family and autograph something for us.

Thanks for bringing him by Terri- you know we love you!

By the way, you can read about the tasty Ginger lemonade that they had, in my blog may 2005 archives about three quarters of the way down the page at….
Fancy Glass in May

Monday, July 25, 2005

Momo is Japanese for Peach Posted by Picasa

Peaches in the Summertime

One of my favorite things about summer in Japan is the peaches. These big pinkish fruits are not at all like the Georgia peaches and local North East Peaches I knew in America. The US Peaches are great for baking and eating, these Japanese peaches are not good for baking at all- but they are extremely delicious. White and pink flesh inside, much more delicate taste and so much juice. Eating one guarantees a lovely tasty mess… juice dripping down your arms, much more like the experience of eating really juicy watermelon.

Peaches are famous in Japan, from the legend of Momo-Taro the peach boy to the expensive individually wrapped peaches in the department store food boutiques, to Japanese peach tattoo icons… Our friend aaron even got obsessed with Peach juice from vending machines while he was over here visting us.

Peaches are available in Japan only from beginning/mid July to the end of August. So you have at best 6-8 weeks of peach enjoyment time. This makes me love them even more in a way as it makes them a bit more special. The photos above are of a fairly small whole peach, some can be bigger than large fuji apples… and a cut peach that we are enjoying today, on My husband’s birthday.

I would have to say, that Japanese peaches are hands down my favorite seasonal fruit in Japan.

Some interesting links
For any true science geeks…. Japanese Peach-genome mapping

A great blog post about peaches from “she who eats…"

A little info and photo on Peaches from Nagano

If you ever get a chance to try these wonderful summer treats, I highly reccommend them!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Harry and A Hogwarts favorite... Trifle Posted by Picasa

Harry Potter a celebration in Food

While suffering from this yucky summer cold, I bought and too quickly finished the latest Harry Potter Book #6 in the series. It was wonderful and ended too quickly for me, now the long wait begins for the final book.

One of the richest things about Harry Potter books is the real world sensory touches JK Rowling brings to her stories. This extra attention to detail is what really brings Harry's world to life. And one of my long time favorite parts of that sensory world she has created- is the food.

Rowling uses food for celebration in the many feasts at Hogwarts, to show family relationships (as we see at the Dursleys' where Harry is punished with no meals or cold tinned soup), passage of time and structure to the days that pass, and characters emotional states are often portrayed through food- Like Harry or Ron being too nervous to eat before a quidditch match. Or comfort food- like chocolate being a good remedy food after an encounter with a Dementor.

Rowling also gives her world richness by the sheer variety of foods and cultural texture by some of the very "British offerings" she presents.

A list of some of the foods that HP characters consume, or create;

Yorkshire pudding, beef casserole, sprouts, Pumpkin juice, Roast beef, roast chicken, fried sausages, stew, casserole, tripe, pork chops, shepherd's pie, steak, Cornish pasties, lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, steak and kidney pudding, steak and kidney pie, black pudding, sandwiches (chicken and ham),bread, marshmallows and crumpets (Harry and Ron roast them over the Common room fire during the Christmas holidays), baked pumpkin, roast potatoes, jacket potatoes, boiled potatoes, mashed potatoes, chips, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, custard tart, mint humbugs, ice cream, apple pies, treacle tart, spotted dick, chocolate eclairs, chocolate gateau, jam doughnuts, trifle, strawberries, jelly, and rice pudding.
Breakfast - Porridge, rolls, orange juice, kippers, eggs and bacon, toast, buttered toast with jam, corn flakes.

Christmas treats:
turkey, chipolatas, thick rich gravy, cranberry sauce, turkey, Christmas pudding, eggnogg, crumpets, more trifle, and Christmas cake. And when it gets really cold in the winter, the House Elves supply teachers and students with warming stews and savoury puddings.

In Diagon Alley/ Florian Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour, with a wide range of differently flavoured ice creams and sundaes (among them peanut butter, coconut, strawberry with and without chopped nuts)

The lunch trolley on the train and Honeydukes' sweet shop offer the following, mouth-watering articles:
Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, chocolate frogs, pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes, Liquorice Wands, Pepper Imps, chocolate balls full of strawberry mousse and clotted cream, Sugar Quills, tooth flossing string mints, Jelly Slugs, nougat, coconut ice, toffees, Fizzing Whizbees, ice mice, peppermint toads, blood flavoured lollipops, Cockroach Cluster, fudge flies, Acid Pops, sherbet balls, pumpkin tart and ice creams and sundaes of various flavours.

At the Three Broomsticks, Butterbeer, Red Currant Rum, Gillywater, cherry syrup and soda with ice and umbrella and mulled mead.
And then there is of course tea

Hagrid cooks making a strange assortment of food including treacle fudge, rock cakes and bath buns, stoat sandwiches or his alleged beef casserole (containing a large talon)

As an American I never really had much exposure to trifle and the name of it always catches my eye when I read Harry Potter- they seem to have trifle and treacle tart quite often.

Here is a recipe for a classic "Proper Trifle" originally from the Sundays at the moosewood cookbook.

A Proper Trifle

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar (superfine or granulated)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

Cake/Fruit layer:
5 cups pound cake pieces
or sponge cake pieces
raspberry jam
1/8 to 1/4 cup sherry
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
OR blackberries
1 large banana

1/2 pint heavy cream -- whipped
1/2 cup slivered almonds -- lightly toasted

To make the custard, heat the cream in a small saucepan, taking care that it does not scorch. In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. When the cream is hot, pour it into the bowl with the egg mixture, stirring constantly. Return the custard to the saucepan and stir constantly on low heat until thickened, but do not let it boil.
Remove it from the heat and cool.

To assemble the trifle, spread the pieces of cake with a very thin layer of jam. Put the pieces in a large bowl. (Clear glass or crystal is traditional.) Sprinkle the sherry and berries over the cake and stir.

Don't bother to thaw frozen berries; there's less mess if they're frozen. Peel and thinly slice the banana. Stir it in with the cake and berries. Drizzle the custard over the top. Don't expect to cover and completely encase the cake and fruit mix.
Spread the whipped cream over the trifle. Sprinkle the almonds on top. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

From: "Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant"
This recipe was originally posted in Diana's Kitchen

You can read a whole essay about use of food in the Harry Potter series and some thoughts on the unhealthy eating habits of wizards at HP Lexicon

You can also see some great ideas for having a Harry Potter inspired party or tea at
I Village UK or

and don't forget the Trifle

Thursday, July 21, 2005

my favorite food flick of all time...  Posted by Picasa

Favorite food movies…

I have a summer cold right now, so food adventures of late have consisted of mango juice, soup and toast. So since I’ve been resting at home watching videos- it looks like a good time to write something about food films.

I have four favorites, the first three are definitely food films, the last one has some great food elements but perhaps not everyone would classify it as a food flick.

The first and by far the best is the film Big Night, made in 1996 directed by Campbell Scott and Stanley Tucci. This movie was amazing, and the last 10 minutes never fail to make me crave a simple omelet. This is a fantastic homage to the chef as artist. And it is funny, sad, and beautiful.

The second favorite on my list is considered the penultimate food film Babette’s Feast.
This is a small story, and one of the most gorgeous food movies ever made. Made in 1987 in denmark. It is simple, deep and rich.

Number 3 is another foreign film- Eat Drink Man Woman (Yin shi nan nu in Chinese) This is about romance, family and yes food. It cannot be described in simple terms but just the opening credit sequence is one of the best pieces of food film footage I have ever seen. This one is a must see if you have not yet seen it. Directed and written by Ang Lee.

And the fourth is a small Canadian film Double Happiness- starring Sandra Oh. This is not technically a food film, but the sweet buns for Dad Li are one of the most memorable parts of this film to me and comes to represent the relationship between father and daughter, between generations and across cultures.

This is the top four for me… And then tonight I watched Super Size Me – which is a food film that does NOT celebrate food- love of life- and happiness. It documents a man eating nothing but MacDonald’s for 30 days… everything that is not about a celebration of food… We need to come back from this kind of insanity… food should be a part of Life’s celebration and we are instead becoming a part/product of a culture of fast food that is killing us, and our kids.

The best thing about food films – good ones- is that it reminds us that food can feed our souls, bring us together, share love and kindness with our families and friends. And a socially conscious film like Super Size Me Can remind us that we have the power as consumers to make choices… food that brings us together, Slow Food that supports local communities and traditions and makes us happy and healthy or …. ????? I know what my choice is.

I would love to hear comments and reccomendations of other food films... share anyone?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Cherries- deep dark and lucious Posted by Picasa

dries wonderful laden shelves!  Posted by Picasa

life is a bowl of cherries

More reflections from my trip back to Pennsylvania. One of the things that was a great part of my trip was finding so many great food markets, roadside stands, and local producers. Between my mom’s place in Northumberland and Lewisburg is Dries Orchard and Market… lots of fresh local grown apples, and other produce. What inspired me on this visit was the locally grown cherries! Dark and juicy. I bought a pint container and shared them with mom, her roommate and ate quite a few myself.

They were excellent. And a wonderful early summer treat. Cherries like this in Japan would be about 9.00 $ USA (about 900 yen)… so needless to say, I felt like I had found quite a bargain. Some are even worse, Like this story... Japan Today - News - Yamagata farmer ships premium cherries worth Y1,000 apiece

At Dries I also brought some home made fruit spreads in tiny glass jars to take back to Tokyo as gifts for my friends and co-workers and of course some for me and my husband to enjoy on morning toast.

Over on 101 Cookbooks today there was a great post about Batch’s Cherries from Washington state… they sounded sublime. And I copied down the ice cream recipe in my "too be tried someday folder-" though I think I will wait till I am somewhere where I can get Cherries for less than 9.00 a box.

Dries Orchards
Sunbury-Northumberland county
apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, grapes, cherries

Celebrating Tea Leaves Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

special-TEA- tuesday

Well, I just bought about a kilo of English Breakfast tea from the tea provider that we use at Fujimamas, for home use. Now the question is where do I store so much tea so that it can be used over the next 6 mons. ? Debate raged in the casa de shannon tea household. And it got split into two glad ziplock backs and put into the freezer drawer of our fridge. A nice dark, little use space... but obviously very cold.

then this morning in my mail box. Low and behold, the answer came from some other tea-drinker's same dilema. My TEA MUSE newsletter came from Adagio Teas and this month's letter from MR. TEA set things straight.

Dear Mrs. Frigidaire,

Before I get to your (excellent) question, I must take this opportunity to clear up some confusion that seems to have arisen. When perusing my many (excellent) questions and assorted fan emails, I've been noticing a disturbing trend.

Supposedly, there is there is another "celebrity" out there posing as me. To clear a few things up: no, I do not have a mohawk. I once had a fairly bad haircut, but it grew out. I do enjoy gold, as long as it is in the form of Golden Monkey tea. Finally, I've never gotten into fisticuffs with Sylvester Stallone. And I pity the poor fool that does -- he's quite a fighter!

Answer: The best way to keep tea fresh is by putting it in a dark, dry space (like your cupboard, etc.), kept as air-tight as possible. This should maintain freshness up to one year (a little less for green and white teas). I do not recommend putting in the freezer, in that it will add moisture to the tea leaves, greatly reducing the flavor.

Keeping it fresh,
Mr. Tea
Lover, not a fighter


so time to make some space in the shannon cupboard!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Extra Special Basil, Egg & Shrimp Fried Rice Posted by Picasa

Tried and true.

The restaurant I work in, as you know, is called Fujimamas. It is asian fusion with a creative and original menu by our executive chef and the restaurant owner, Mark Vann.

I have been eating fujimamas food for 6 going on 7 years. Long before I worked here I was a devoted customer. One of my favorite things- for all these years, has been Fujimamas Shrimp Fried Rice.

The basic ingredients are egg, shrimp, rice, basil and chilis. The basil is really one of the magic parts of this dish. Plus it just looks gorgeous. Living in Asia, as we do, my husband and I have tried a lot of Fried Rice or yakimeishi as it is known in Japanese… But none compare to Mark’s recipe.

Yemi, one of our women in the kitchen often makes it a little hotter- more chilis and on a Friday night with a tropical cocktail, nothing is better!

If I ever make it out on my own to start a restaurant, I am sure that for years to come, I will remember and miss Fujimamas Fried Rice. When you are in Tokyo… come by and order some of our great seafood and meat dishes, and then round it out with our Shrimp, Egg and Basil Fried Rice. You will be glad you did.