May 28, 2010 6:56 AM

Cultural exchanges

Although I still feel like a foreigner, the gift sharing atmosphere my professors started is so conducive for the family-like bonding my lab mates and I share with each other. It's getting to the point where I am starting to wish that I could spend the next 5+ years of my life as a graduate student in this lab... But eh, that's getting off topic.

Last Thursday my tutors taught me how to cook a common winter Japanese soup during lunch! They surprised me by remembering how one of my goals here is to learn to cook. Actually, I was more amused by the patient and kind way they were showing me how to rinse rice and peel potatoes. It felt like they were giving directions to an 8 year old- which is probably my age when it comes to cooking! Let's just say that both Natsumi and Mika startled me by uttering こわい(!) when I tried to peel carrots and potatoes with a real knife. Turned out, I almost cut part of my left thumb up without even realizing it.

But anywho, the festivities in the kitchen area were so contagious. Even Nishitanisensei and Yokoyamasensei decided to join us for two hours. That is, two whole hours of teasing the girls about their cooking skills :). Or maybe it was me that they were laughing at. Hahah, oh welps.

I took pictures throughout the process just in case I forget a crucial step. Fortunately, the dish turned out to be so simple to make. Even I am confident that I could cook this on my own.

So cheers to potatoes, carrots, onions, peas, pork and rice dish- aka にくじゃが!

Step 1: We rinse the rice, add seeds/spices into the water, and cook using a rice cooker.


Step 2: Rinse, peel and cut potatoes, carrots, onions and peas.


Step 3: According to Yokoyamasensei, add '3 mL' of cooking oil in pot to fry the pork.


Step 4: Add two different kinds of sweet sake, soy sauce, sugar and pepper.


Step 5: Fill the pot to the brim with water and simmer until the vegetables are soft.


Step 6: Relax and chit chat.


Step 7: Check on the soup. Let Yokoyamasensei check it afterwards too- like how he would check our petri dishes to make sure we transferred all the transformed rice calluses into the growth media. Just to humor him. But in actuality, I think he was doing it to make us smile.


Step 8: ENJOY with rice!



Now fast forward to Tuesday.

After our lab meeting, I surprised my entire lab by asking them if they would like to eat Japanese smoked pork, smoked gouda, and brie with crackers. Or in other words, I held all those ingredients in my hands and asked, "たべませんか?"

The guys responded very quickly with, "たべましょう"!The girls grinned and bowed while saying, "せごい。ありがとう! いただきます."

For completeness sakes, I'll write the steps here although I don't need to...

Step 1: Slice cheese and meat into little squares.


Step 2: Place crackers onto plates.


Step 3: ENJOY!




Everyone (that's 15+ people!) enjoyed this appetizer! There was a chorus of ごちそさま でした! at the end of our mini party. It's safe to say, mission was accomplished :) I didn't even have to use pots and pans to cook. SCORE!

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