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    Archive for April, 2014

    Healthy Japanese Food

    Japanese Food

    Everyone thinks that Japanese food is healthy. Well, much of the food in Asia is healthy. It seems that the people of Asia have traditionally eaten more vegetables than we do in the west. Part of the reason, I think, is due to the environment. A lot of places are warmer and are able to grow a variety of things. Another reason is that because of the long histories of the various countries in Asia, people have had a long time to try many different things, and that information was passed on along with seeds and things to import foods.  Oh to be human  But let’s face it, everyone in the world is human. Humans really aren’t that different from each other. And humans love to eat things that taste good. Because our biology is the same, we think the same things taste good. Our biology tells us that fat, meat, carbohydrates and sweet things taste very good. So it shouldn’t be surprising that in Japan there is a lot of food that is not healthy for you.

    Raw, raw, raw

    Of course the most famous Japanese food all around the world is sushi. One might think that that’s all that Japanese people eat. Actually, I don’t believe that it was a common dish until recently. Another interesting fact is that not much Japanese food is raw. In the west we consider things like salad to be healthy food and so we think that eating raw fruits and vegetables is the way to go. However for countries who received a lot of their culture from ancient China it was rather barbaric to eat raw vegetables or anything else raw for that matter. Other than salad, the only other uncooked food that I come by, besides sushi of course, is pickled foods. And even salads, I believe, are also a recent introduction to the Japanese culture.

    Grease is good!

    In English-speaking cultures, deep frying was not a way of preparing food. That’s how we ended up with the term french fries. They were potatoes that were prepared in the French style of cooking them. However, in China, deep frying was a way to prepare food. So it surprises people that when they make a trip to Asian countries, that a lot of food is actually deep-fried. Not healthy, you say? You don’t even know the half of it! In Asia, fatty meats are prized. Because of the traditionally small amounts of meat in Asian diets, people grew to love the fat and gristle of the pieces of meat that we in the west have learned to flee from. So fried chicken in Japan? Boneless thigh meat with all the skin and fat lurking under the crispy breaded crust. Some people even top it off with mayonnaise! I prefer mine with just salt and white pepper. It takes some getting used to though.

    You don’t know diddly!

    There is plenty of healthy Japanese food. But much of it you wouldn’t recognize. I think part of the healthiness of the Asian diet it in the sheer variety of things eaten. Every vitamin and mineral under the sun can be had in a single meal! (I exaggerate of course) for example, the English word “sea weed.” As if there’s only one! Japanese people love sea weed, and there are many, many kinds.

    Even after 12 years, there are still plenty on things I find in supermarkets that I have no idea what they are. I’ve recently began using fronds in my cooking. Some taste like asparagus.  Yes, eating Japanese food can make you healthier, if you avoid the fatty meats. However, you have to venture out of your comfort zone. That means trying sea weed of all kinds, fermented foods that smell awful, things you don’t even begin to recognize and oh… the textures. Slimy and sticky are considered to be healthy textures for you. It’s supposed to make your blood flow more smoothly.  Having said that, there are some delicious foods here. I like Japanese food. Of course I’m partial to Asian food in general.

    Apologies in Spanish – Disculpas

    Spanish has a lot of ways to say, “I’m sorry.”  Fortunately we have a great lesson that covers may of the common ways to say things like, “I’m sorry, it shouldn’t have happened that way, please forgive me and I promise it won’t happen again.”

    Of course it probably will happen again which is why you need to learn the many different words for everything from I’m sorry, to asking for forgiveness.

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    Learning Spanish, 15 Minutes At a Time

    April 17, 2014:  Long study sessions can be difficult, so I’ve recently been experimenting with 15-minute study sessions. Much to my surprise, it’s working.

    In the past, we have always recommended that you study for two 30-minute sessions per day, and more if you can. That’s still a good approach and will work well. However, I am also having very good results (maybe even better results) from studying for three different 15-minute sessions — one before breakfast, one close to noon, and one in the afternoon.

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    The Fukushima Disaster

    This past March 11 marked the third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. I’ll never forget that day. I was in a meeting when my phone started going crazy. I was getting messages through Facebook from people from back home whom I hadn’t spoken to for 20 years! However, when it tried to reply, I couldn’t. The internet was at a standstill. Nothing could be opened, sent or received.

    The Bad News

    When I was able to look at some news, it wasn’t pretty. The pictures I saw were pretty scary. even though I live in Japan, I’m so far away from that area that by the time the news reached me, everything had already hit the fan. People back home knew more than I did and knew it long before.

    The Reaction

    I remember 9/11 and the moment I found out. I was late for that too. But the person that I worked for at that time was from New York and both he and his wife had friends who were working in the twin towers. As for the disaster here,I had never been there and had no connection to there. None of the people I knew did either. It was just stunned silence. Whether you liked it or not, life went on. There was no time to really react.

    Now

    You never forget something like the disaster in north eastern Japan. People talk about it but not that often. Like I said, life has to go on. The radiation from Fukushima has not affected other places in Japan. It’s safe except for the areas near the power plant. However, recently they have been allowing some people to go back home in the outermost areas of the evacuation zone. Those areas affected by the radiation are not tourist areas so there really is no reason to go there. Japan is moving on. It’s what they have to do.