The dogwoods are blooming in our yard, the state flower of Virginia and North Carolina. I just learned a “dogwood winter” is a cold snap in the spring. We’re having one of those right now, brrr.
Dogwoods put me in the mood for Japanese art. The troubles in Japan have also prompted me to pull out an old exhibition catalog of Japanese art from the late 1600’s to the mid-1800’s. There’s something so calming about that art. Lately I’m more likely to notice blog posts about Japanese culture. It might seem trivial for me to focus on sake amidst Japan’s increasing death tolls, food shortages, rolling blackouts and radiation, but the woes of the sake industry epitomize what’s happening to many other industries and crafts in Japan.
More than 100 sake breweries operated in the three hardest hit prefectures – Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate. Many breweries disappeared, many more are damaged. Sake Evangelist John Gauntner is keeping track of the impact of the earthquake and tsunami on the industry. It’s unclear how the spring rice-planting season can get underway when so much has been lost. A few years ago I went to Takara Sake in Berkeley, one of the few sake breweries in the US. It was there I learned that although sake is usually called rice wine, its brewing process is similar to beer’s.
Bloggers across the US have been raising money for Japan in a variety of ways. Two local food bloggers, Johanna Kramer of Durhamfoodie and Matt Lardie of Green Eats Blog are hosting the Triangle Food Blogger Bake Sale on Saturday May 14 in Durham. What to make, what to make….
Back in the US, Boston chef and cookbook author Jasper White shares a lesson on seafood shopping. I’m so tired of being disappointed in the fish at my local supermarkets, but fresher fish requires a 30 minute drive. When I go home to southern Massachusetts I get such fish market envy.
Since I buy my soap at the farmers market, this humorous story about soap as an object of desire, by Steven Heller at The Atlantic, qualifies for The Sunday Table. “How indeed could I be sucked into the soap vortex?” It’s easy, Steve. I love my soap maker, a local Raleigh company, Anders Natural Soap. They sell all sorts of soap from their shop in the NC Farmers Market Shoppes — oh how I hate the word shoppes.
I’ll leave you with a poem.
“On April 27, 2009, Arnold went missing on the small volcanic island of Kuchinoerabujima, Japan. He went for a solo hike to explore an active volcano on the island and never returned to the inn where he was staying. . . He was presumed to have died from a fatal fall.”To wake when all is possible before the agitations of the day have gripped you To come to the kitchen and peel a little basketball for breakfast To tear the husk like cotton padding a cloud of oil misting out of its pinprick pores clean and sharp as pepper To ease each pale pink section out of its case so carefully without breaking a single pearly cell To slide each piece into a cold blue china bowl the juice pooling until the whole fruit is divided from its skin and only then to eat so sweet a discipline precisely pointless a devout involvement of the hands and senses a pause a little emptiness each year harder to live within each year harder to live without