My father has a fascination with Japan that is ongoing. When I was around the age of six it was at a peak. He would take me to Little Tokyo in L.A. to buy obscene amounts of origami paper and instruction books. Then we would eat a Japanese lunch and drive back to Hollywood. I was a very accomplished origamist and quickly became a little Japanophile myself. I read Sadako and the 1,000 Paper Cranes, mourned Hiroshima, and eagerly awaited my father’s return from trips to Japan with his arms full of Japanese silks and Geisha dolls.
During those years my father would take me and my family to his Japanese friends’ homes in Los Angeles for Japanese New Year, celebrated on January 1. The Japanese New Year feast is composed of foods referred to as osechi. My father would tell me that if I ate everything and was very polite and respectful that he would take me with him on one of his trips to Japan. I was not a fearful eater and ate many different types of foods from a young age, but swallowing some of the more foreign elements of osechi (bitter orange or bitter melon, roes of various sorts) was a feat even for me.
Years went by, and my father continued to travel to Japan from time to time, but tickets were expensive, my prep school schedule was demanding, and despite all my good eating of osechi, the trip to Japan never materialized.
Two years ago I went to Belize and got engaged. The engagement was long coming, and we weren’t going to wait. The marriage would take place within six months.
When I got back to the Bay Area my parents were there waiting to greet my new fiance and me. My father greeted me with two business class tickets to Tokyo for him and me. It was August, so no Japanese New Year in Japan, but it would do.
This year my husband and I are celebrating Japanese New Year with Peko-Peko, the fledging catering company from Chez Panisse alum Sylvan Mishima Brackett. Our bento will include Crab Namasu: Vinegared daikon and carrot with steamed Dungeness crab, Misozuke Beef Tataki: Miso-cured grassfed tenderloin, Datemaki: Sweet rolled omelet with Riverdog Farm eggs and local rockcod for wisdom in the New Year, Yuzu Pickled Turnips, Kuromame: Sweetened black soybeans for health in the New Year, Chikuzen-Ni: Local taro, carrot, potato, and shitake with lotus root and Mary’s organic chicken, Kombu-Maki: Sardines rolled Hokkaido kombu for happiness in the New Year, and Black Cod Teriyaki: Marinated and grilled Bolinas black cod.
We are lucky to have relished Brackett’s creations before (click here for that menu). The fried eggplant was sweet and tender and the summer tomatoes offered the perfect clean refreshment. My mouth is watering just imagining the flavors our oseshi bento will offer.
I’m hoping this beautiful gastronomic experience will set the tone for my eating for all of 2009. And as if that weren’t enough, A Rockridge Life is desperate to see Peko-Peko expand: how about a storefront on College Avenue? Pretty please?
kotoshi mo yoroshiku o-negai-shimasu (今年もよろしくお願いします)
I hope for your favour again in the coming year