The FooDorama Challenge: I Watch It, I Try It!

(=^・ェ・^=))ノ彡。・∵゜:;,・゜∵: ○ ;,・。∵゜:;,。・゜

Jdorama Inspiration: Shinya Shokudo

Shinya Shokudo (深夜食堂 or The Late Night Diner) is a 10-episode drama that was shown past midnight on TBS and MBS for the Fall Season of 2009. As its title suggests, the drama takes place in a unique, night-shift diner in one of the alley-ways of Tokyo’s busiest municipality, Shinjuku.  The dimly-lit diner is run by its cook who goes only by the name of  ‘Master’ (played by Kobayashi Kaoru). He opens the diner from 12 midnight up to 7 am with a menu that offers goodwill and just one dish – tonjiru (pork and vegetable soup).  If a customer wishes to order something else, the Master will whip it up only if he has the ingredients available.  The stories told in this drama are those of the customers that patronize this humble eatery.

‘Master’ Class: Kobayashi (left) plays the enigmatic, unnamed cook in this drama based on a manga by Abe Yaro

I was very well-impressed by this drama’s low-keyed simplicity and quiet charm.  Since the diner opens only during the wee hours, it would naturally attract a few but interesting characters as its customers – mostly the city’s nocturnal creatures who work the graveyard shift (a yakuza boss, a stripper, a newspaper delivery boy, a male porn star, etc.).  The warmth and calming atmosphere of the diner is set against the contrasting backdrop of night-time Shinjuku’s cold, lonely and impersonal concrete milieu, so it was natural that these customers would find refuge in it.  And what gives this drama its stroke of genius is the menu – or rather the lack of it. Since a patron can ask for a simple dish (if the Master has the means to make it), he or she orders a favorite comfort food which in turn conjures up repressed or forgotten memories of family, lost friends or past loves that basically inspires the character to remember what was once lost or left behind, deal with regrets or seek a sense of personal closure as well as fulfillment.

With scenes accompanied by Suzuki Tsuneyoshi’s haunting song “Omoi-de,” Shinya Shokudo is an introspective drama that despite the differences in language and culture, it proves that there is something universal about the topic of food that we could all connect with.

Just like the food it features, the drama stimulates feelings of comfort and good vibes.  It is one of the best yet seemingly underrated jdoramas I’ve seen so far (and rightfully deserves a second season, too).

Jdorama Food: Japanese Comfort Food

Comfort food pertains to “foods consumed to achieve some level of improved emotional status, whether to relieve negative psychological affect or to increase positive.”  They can be simple dishes that could be home-cooked (sandwiches or soup) or bought from a store (ice cream). For me, the idea of comfort food is something that can be easily prepared anytime, usually made up of left-overs and satiates those annoying hunger pangs that creep during ungodly hours of the night, a rainy day or during dvd weekend marathons.

The comfort dishes shown every episode are the real ‘stars’ of Shinya Shokudo (the drama even offers cooking tips at the end of each episode).  They include traditional Japanese comfort food like tarako (cod roe – above left) and ochazuke (rice with green tea – above right); and Western dishes like potato salad and egg sandwich.

The FooDorama Special Challenge: Remembering my own Comfort Foods

This is a special on comfort food – meaning, I will refrain from reprising the dishes featured in the drama since they are just too easy to prepare, does not pose much of a challenge and hence, no need to share recipes.  So instead, for this post, I would like to share my very own simple and personal comfort food experiences…

The FooDorama Connection #1: Nekomanma

In episode 2, an aspiring singer comes to the diner and orders nekomanma (literally means ‘cat food’) which is rice with dried bonito shavings and a dash of soy sauce.  It is a super easy to prepare and makes use of leftovers – particularly rice and fish.

My Counterpart: Rice with leftover Maling bits

LOL… I’m guessing a lot of my fellow Pinoys can relate to this. Maling is a brand name of a Chinese canned luncheon meat widely available locally. It is the poor man’s Spam… well, even middle class folks like it, too.  We did have the occasional Spam but Maling was the canned meat we consumed most often while growing up. Yes, I’ve heard of horrible rumors about this product but it’s cheap anyway, readily available and saves you time.  As long as this unsophisticated, much-maligned fare can help ease hunger pangs and gets you through the day (or night)… Lunok na lang, at wag nang mag-isip ng kung anu-ano…

FooDorama Connection #2: Tamago (or Egg) Sandwich

In episode 7, a young newspaper delivery man would order egg salad sandwich at the midnight diner during his breaks.  The Master would prepare it for him along with extra ham sandwiches.  I had to pause from watching this episode in order to make an egg sandwich for myself. There’s nothing like watching a good drama while having the same food that the characters were enjoying.

My Counterpart: The Tasty Adobo Pandesal

Chances are, every Filipino family may have some leftover adobo inside their refrigerator.  This quintessential Pinoy dish is practical, have a long shelf-life (because of its main ingredient – vinegar) and simply delicious.  I remember living on these when I was on my own in Cebu. Usually accompanied with rice, this dish could be made into a sandwich, using adobo pork or chicken from the fridge, nuke it up, shred it into thin flakes and spread it along with mayo on hot pandesal (Philippine round bread).

The FooDorama Connection #3: Butter Rice

In episode 5 (which is probably my favorite), a renowned food critic who is used to eating expensive gourmet food, drops in and orders a simple dish that reminds him of his happy, worry-free life as a young man spent with a senpai he had admired. The dish is that of butter rice – steamed rice mixed with a dab of butter and a drop of soy sauce.

My Counterpart: Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice)

If I could order something from the Master, it would be this: the simple sinangag or left-over rice stir-fried in oil and chopped garlic, with a dash of salt and pepper.  One of my early childhood memories is watching TV alone and eating fried rice, cooked and lovingly served by my mother. I remember the rice was so good I ate 2 to 3 plates of it without eating anything else – just the fried rice. I also recall feeling contented and happy as any care-free preschooler at that time. That is why after watching Shinya Shokudo, it made me contemplate on how I long for those times, and how I miss my mother, and so, well… I ended up crying like a baby… *sighs*

The feelings attached to one’s own personal comfort food may differ from one individual to another.  Whether to make us remember our moms, or wax nostalgic for those happy youthful times, or simply unearthing lost emotions forced to be buried in exchange for steeling ourselves up as a way of self-protection against life’s harsh realities, enjoying simple comfort food more or less, is a humbling experience that helps reconnect with the child within us.  It’s this simple food that reminds us of things that may mean little to others and yet this is what we treasure for it fills us up (physically and emotionally) even for just a fleeting moment.

How about you… What’s your comfort food?

P.S. This post is dedicated to my beautiful and kind MOM. I miss you so much – and not just because of your fried rice (^^)… Love you always and happy birthday!

~(=^‥^)ノ☆ おやすみニャ。。o.゚。*・★

————————–fodocha

My FooDorama Challenge Links

Coming Soon – FDC#14: Taiyaki (Jdorama Inspiration: Shinzanmono)
FDC#12: Omuraisu (Jdorama Inspiration: Tumbling)
FDC#11: Bibimbap (Kdrama Inspiration: Full House)
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Info Sources: Comfort food (wikipedia); Jdorama (dramawiki)

Jdorama Photo Credits: (MBS, meshiya.tv)

smallribbonMom, I remember …

…how you loved Rogelio Dela Rosa and Carmen Rosales.

…that you were a fashionista way back in college — being the first-born among a brood of 8, you had the privilege of always having new things, and never had to wear hand-me-downs.

…how you liked wearing heels to help add precious inches to your 5’1” height.

…that you used to design and sew dresses by hand, including beautiful beaded wedding gowns, and had clients like veteran actress, Boots Anson-Roa.

…that you adored two of the most handsome (yet closeted gay) leading men of the Golden Era of Hollywood: Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson.

… that you baked macaroon cupcakes, chiffon cakes, and apple cinnamon pies.

… that when you were a young college student in UP, renowned artist and Amorsolo’s contemporary, Ireneo Miranda (the “Dean of Filipino Cartooning”), took a liking for you (*ahem* since you apparently looked like his wife) and often invited you to model for his portraiture classes.

… that you valued the importance of reading and it was because your decision to invest in books like the Dr. Suess series and Companion Library Book Digests made a lifelong reader out of me.

… that you liked joining spelling bees in high school; and your tips on how to spell (close your eyes and ‘see’ the word; spell by syllables not by letters) were quite helpful even up to now when I teach MY students to spell.

… that everyone said the same things about you… that you were the favorite niece, the favorite cousin, the favorite daughter-in-law, the favorite aunt… I of course didn’t bother to ask why. We all knew why.

… that I used to watch Nora Daza‘s cooking shows with you every Sunday morning; I found it fascinating how you would be ready with your little notebook and pen, how you would jot down the ingredients but not the directions (which you mentally noted instead)…

… how I didn’t heed your suggestions on suitable career paths for me, but now I see. Moms are always right all along.

… the shape and softness of your hands and fingers as I held them in mine, and the contours of your face since I often caressed them when I was little.

… that you were not gifted with robust health even when you were young — reminding me to not take for granted my own health – to eat healthy, to exercise more, to sleep early.

… that we had you for a such a short time — reminding me not to take for granted my own existence, my own dreams, my own time, and the people around me – to live and appreciate life fully, and to love dearly.

… that you never had the chance to enjoy your grandchildren, but if you were still here, I’m sure they would have loved you to bits because I bet you would have made an awesome grandma.

momposing

Love you, Ma, and Happy Birthday!

I was born on a Bloomsday.

If you don’t know what Bloomsday means, I don’t either.

Just kidding.  joyce-ulysses-750-wraps-1000-300x294

Bloomsday is what fans of James Joyce’ novel, Ulysses have been calling this day, June 16, naming it after the story’s protagonist, Leopold Bloom.  The whole story takes place on that one day (1904 to be exact) in Dublin, Ireland–wherein Joyce made mention of  actual streets, bars, and shops. So every Bloomsday, Dubliners and Joyce fans celebrate the day by reliving the story, tracing Bloom’s steps as mentioned in the book and participating in Ulysses readings… and oh, yeah, by hitting the pubs and doing what they do best. 🙂

I admit I haven’t finished the book yet (I bookmarked one copy from gutenberg.org).  I dampamanaged to read a few pages so far… and you can’t blame me. Ulysses is described as one of the most difficult books to read;  and that reading it ‘would take a lifetime.’  If you’re interested about Bloomsday and how to read and appreciate the book, click on this interesting article.

Well, then… what about MY Bloomsday? I celebrated my birthday two days ahead.  We were all craving for seafood so we went to Dampa, Parañaque City.

The wet market in the Original Dampa (left).crabsbday

Aah… bday cravings: Fresh crabs, yeah!–expensive but worth it (right)

The place in Sucat is the original dampa— a place where you buy fresh seafood in the nearby wet market, choose an eatery, hand over the food you just bought to the cook or waiting staff and tell them your instructions on how to prepare it, wait for them to cook it, and if it’s done–eat! I’ve tried the other dampas that sprouted all over Manila and QC but the original is still the best– and probably still the cheapest.

Kay Susan Tayo!: We chose Zanvinz Grill Hauz (left). Aling Susan, the proprietress is the one who accommodated us.  We bought some liempo (pork spareribs) which she herself grilled for us.  And she even did some fortune telling while she was at it, too!

bday09

tita 019

Bday feast 2009: We also had calamares, shrimps in butter and garlic, spicy crabs. We had them placed in styropor containers and took them home. Yum! (above pix)

At work, I received gifts- a book, (Coraline!) and a gift card from Powerbooks (left).  Thanks, AGirls! I truly appreciated it!momwytroses

Then,  I also visited Mom on my birthday (Right)… June 16 maybe a truly fateful day for Leopold Bloom.  I guess it was for me, too. My mom (as well as her brother) passed away on a bloomsday, too.  I hoped she likes the white roses…

“Hold to the now, the here. Through which all future plunges to the past.” -Stephen Dedalus from Ulysses

What’s my birthday wish?… I do dream of traveling, and if I ever do get the chance to globe-trot in the future,  I will celebrate one fine bloomsday in Dublin — perhaps to partake of a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy at Davy Byrnes’ pub or maybe liver slices fried with crustcrumbs downed with a cold mug of Irish beer — before I kick the bucket. (=^.^)

Uh… yeah, ok.  And finish the book, too…

Here’s to more Bloomsdays ahead! ♪♫•*¨*•.¸\(✿^○^)/=3┌iiii┐ ¸.•*¨*•♫♪

mombanaue

This is MOM who also got to travel to Banaue in the 70’s.  The colors may have faded but this is still one of my favorite pics of her probably taken by an uncle (and this is the pic that taught me early on how to properly take pictures when traveling–that is, to include the background and not just yourself).  She may be smiling but it took some guts for her to pose so near the edge of this cliff. Well, that’s my MAMA! Miss you super much ƸӜƷ !!!

•*”˜˜”*°•. ˜”*°•♥•°*”˜ .•°*”˜˜”*°•.
**♥** Happy Mother’s Day! **♥**
.•°*”˜.•°*”˜.•°*”˜♥ ˜”*°•.˜”*°•.˜”*°•.

i still dream about you, ma, from time to time…

in my dreams, i see you…

wearing one of your long house dresses or daster as we call it; cooking by the stove in the kitchen; laughing and chatting with lola azon and the maid while we lie on the marble floor watching a young ariel ureta on early morning tv…

in my dreams, i see you…

and the rest of us…complete; sitting around the old dining table; having a noontime discussion about politics, school, religion; the lazy susan spinning with your tinolang manok and steamed bangus slowly disappearing from their serving plates and into our bellies …while you refill your saucer with calamansi juice and more of that sinful bagoong…

in my dreams, i see you…

watching the carol burnett show late at night when everyone else was asleep; laughing your heart out to the point of tears at carol, harvey korman and tim conway’s antics; while peeling the largest santol that i’ve ever seen…which you kept from us…apparently to enjoy it alone since you deserve a reward after a long, long week of working and commuting from home to philcoa …back and forth, back and forth…you saw me catching you, and you smile and i smile; and then you offer me some; i accept, reveling in this special moment which was our little secret…

and in my dreams, i still see you…

happy, beautiful, and alive; grayer yet healthy and strong; and that you never left us; you whip up a batch of your macaroon cupcakes setting them on the old dining table in its new room filled with framed photos of your smiling grandchildren…you take off your glasses to wipe the lens with the hem of your daster, while you sit down, facing me to ask how my work is doing; and if i have already eaten; and if i needed anything; and if i’m happy, too…of course, i’m happy, ma, i would reply as i bite into one of your soft cupcakes…

but i’m at my happiest when i get to see you in my dreams…for in my dreams, you’re still here.

i love you, and happy birthday…