It was my second year of college, in ’90 or ’91, and I sat at a desk in a classroom with maybe a dozen other students of second-year Japanese. The first year, the class had been much bigger, with a good 30 or 40 students. But the workload was heavy, and the grading tough. The enrollment had been whittled down.
The teaching methods were pretty old-school, with textbooks that were probably from the 50s. We did a lot of in-class drills.
That particular day, we were learning the expression “to use something as something else.” (“X to shite Y o tsukaimasu.”) The instructor gave us some examples. He picked up two pencils, and held them as if they were chopsticks. Hashi to shite empitsu o tsukaimasu, he intoned in his booming fluent-but-American-accented Japanese. “I use pencils as chopsticks.” Then he asked for more examples from the class using the construction.
“Use a rope as a belt,” someone might have said. “I use a book as a tray,” someone else might have offered.
I really can’t remember what examples my classmates came up with. Because as I sat there, I needed all of my concentration to contain the urge to giggle. The one sentence that popped into my head was: Nihon de wa, naihu to shite te o tsukaimasu.¹
In Japan, the hand is used like a knife.²
I’m sad to say that I was not called upon to share my example. I was relieved at the time, as I had not yet released my inner goofball. Also, it’s hard to say how the very serious instructor would have taken my contribution. Especially had it been accompanied by uncontrollable fits of giggling.
¹ Google translate helped me arrive at this:
日本 で は ナイフ として手を使います. There was once a time when I could have written this sentence without looking it up, but that day has long passed. Also, I only wrote Japanese by hand. I would have had no idea how to type any of it!
² The actual wording from the 1978 Ginsu commercial is: “In Japan, the hand can be used like a knife.”
Some friends invited us over for a pre-Thanksgiving pot-luck feast this evening. (Well, the feast was this evening. They invited us a week ago. Really, it would be a poor plan to invite people over for a spur-of-the-moment pot-luck. You’d probably end up with a lot of crackers and cereal. Probably many fewer casseroles. Which could actually be a good thing, depending on how you feel about casseroles.)
Anyhow, since we didn’t have to go scavenging through our cupboards, and were able to plan ahead, we went with several dishes. (Dishes containing food, even.) One of these dishes was a fruit salad prepared by Phoebe. She had the idea to make one, and even mentioned this before our trip to the grocery store. She worked really hard on it, spending close to 2 hours on it. She included raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, apple, pear, clementines, grapes, banana and mango. She did almost all of the cutting herself (I helped halve and core the apple and pear, as well as pitting and peeling the mango, since they were trickier.) I was very proud of her for seeing this task through from idea to finish. And I was proud of myself for minimizing my micromanagement. I let her decide which fruits to use, and let her decide how to cut things. Mostly this hands-off approach of mine was because my own hands were busy cooking the other dishes. (Or the other food things that we put in the dishes.)
The results of all of this included a salad that was both beautiful and tasty, and a Phoebe with a sense of accomplishment.
Phoebe’s phenomenal phruit salad.
As for the doldrums, they are all mine. I was on quite a roll with the daily posting, but I seem to have fallen off my roll. Probably because I spent many hours today cooking and socializing, and now I’m tired. It got to be after 11, and I found that all my post ideas of the previous days seem to have evaporated. (Well, some haven’t evaporated, but I need more time to write them than is available before midnight.) So I went for the low-hanging fruit salad.
James Bond: Do you expect me to chop?
Auric Goldfingerlings: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to dice. And then panfry with some onions.
The Bond Franchise meets the fast food franchise in these lesser-known action movies. Hold on to your seats and grab your ketchup.
- Licence to Peel
- From Russia with Latkes
- Quantum of Solanaceae
- On Her Masher’s Secret Service
- Dumplings Are Forever
- The Living Homefries
- Dr. Gnocchi
- Live and Let Fry
- The Hashbrowns Are Not Enough
- A View Tuber Kill
- The Man with the Golden Spud Gun
- You Only Bake Twice
- Tuber Never Dies
- Kartoffel Royale
- Yukon Goldeneye
- The Spud Who Loved Me
- Fry Another Tater
- For Your Eyes Only
No time to include synopses this time, as I’m beat and need to get my synapses some rest. Please feel free to contribute any plot summaries in the comments.
(Et ceci n’est pas une vraie blog post, non plus. I have a big deadline coming up this week, and I have to get crackin’. This will have to stand in for my NaBloPoTaTo post of today.)
Here are the leftover potatoes from yesterday.
- Here’s a potato riddle, courtesy of this post of potato jokes. (Yes, of course there are potato jokes.):
A skin have I, more eyes than one. I can be very nice when I am done. What am I?
- Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: a picture book by Tomie dePaola based on an Irish folktale. Apparently not about small potatoes.
- The Enormous Potato: by Aubrey Davis. Also a retelling of a folktale. Not actually sure whether it’s the same folktale.
- How big is my potato? A website that allows you to calculate the size of your potato. I’m serious. There’s even a related blog.
- potato battery: harness the power of the potato
- meat and potatoes: the main substance of something. (Also can be used as a more literal description of someones dietary preference, as in “a meat and potatoes kind of guy.”)
- potato prints: the results of a printmaking technique in which a design is carved in a flat sliced section of potato (usually a half of a potato) to make a stamp. The potato edge is then dipped in paint or ink, and pressed against paper (or other surface) to imprint the design.
- The Prince Edward Island Potato Museum: “The only museum of its kind in the world.”
- The Idaho Potato Museum: a potato museum in Idaho
- Potato Museum: seems to be more of an organization than a location. The real-world location of the museum collection has moved around. They offer up many tidbits of potato goodness. I just lost about 15 minutes doing an online jigsaw puzzle of a potato.
- For an encyclopedic yet entertaining post on potatoes, their origins, history and etymology, check out potato on polyglot vegetarian. Also find a load of potato poems.
- Want more potato history? (And who wouldn’t?) You can investigate further with books like Potato (by Patrick Mikanowski), Potato: A History of the Propitious Esculent (by John Reader), and The Potato: How the Humble Spud Rescued the Western World (by Larry Zuckerman).
And if that’s still not enough potatoes, then there are these:
Okay. That was a lot of potatoes. I’m full now.
My post of last night, with my flourishing root vegetables, reminded me of a painting I did in an art class a number of years ago. (I think that number may be greater than 10.) I can’t remember what the class was, as I had many classes with the same teacher over several years. For this particular assignment, though, we were to paint something in response to a poem my teacher read to the class. The poem was one by her husband, a poet, and involved memories of his mother and potatoes. (Sadly, I don’t have a copy of the poem, nor do I remember the title.)
Here is what my brain cooked up:
The Potato Madonna
The painting is somewhat modelled after Medieval or Renaissance Madonnas. It wasn’t quite finished, as I’d originally imagined a more ornamental/ornate background. It’s been sitting in my basement for quite a few years, and has curved in the dampness. This was before I started stretching my own canvas, and would just buy whatever cheap canvas or canvas boards. Cheap canvas boards really don’t last well. On the other hand, I think the wrinkling and the warping rather suit the subject matter. As does the musty basement smell…