Sunday, September 15, 2013

You Are More

I recently finished a book by Rohinton Mistry entitled, "A Fine Balance".  The book blew me away.  The writing was beautiful, compassionate.  I couldn't put it down.  Taking place in India, the stories of the different characters' lives are interweaved together.  They all come from different castes, different religions.  A world that I have no idea about, but still exists today.  Even after reading a novel about it, I can not even begin to fathom how different life is there, compared to where I live.

Anyway, after reading this book, I was hit with an overwhelming feeling of lost hope.  The feeling that sometimes life gets worse, not better.  The oppressive reminder of how hard life can be to certain individuals, to good people, and how sometimes life just does not seem fair.

I don't know if this has ever happened to you.  This has happened to me a few times before.  I'd be depressed and unmotivated for a few weeks at a time.  I knew this wasn't healthy, but I wasn't sure how to get out of it.  To live my normal life, knowing how much unimaginable hardship was going on in other parts of the world.  And then my head starts spiraling about the decline of our planet earth, the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we waste.  Ah!!!!

The other night, I listened to Thich Nhat Hanh's "Classic Dharma Talks - Part 1", as I folded laundry.  He was reminding his listeners to smile.  To smile is one of the most important and loving things we can do for ourselves, for our family, for strangers.  Just the simple of act of smiling is known to release endorphins and calm our bodies.  Even if it's fake smiling by putting a pencil in between our teeth!

In his talk, he mentioned how someone approached him and said, "But I am so full of sorrow.  How can I smile when I have so much sorrow?"  I sat up straight, and stopped folding socks to listen carefully.  Thich Nhat Hanh replied, "You can smile to your sorrow....because you are more than your sorrow,".

This was an immediate game changer for me.  I felt released from my depression, and released from my quicksand of worry.  This doesn't mean I'll ignore what's happening in the world to be stress free.  I can acknowledge the pain and suffering I hear about and see, and try to help as much as I can everyday.  I can only do my best on this earth, for the time that I have.  I can give love.  I can smile.

p. a.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I thought I'd post a blog on all the fun food I had the pleasure of eating this past July on my mini-Asia tour.  It starts out pretty safe, but then swiftly catapults into unknown territory.  Flavors and smells I'd never experienced before.  As a person who is definitely in the "live to eat" category, I am game to try almost anything non-meat related (the only animal products I eat are fish, eggs, and dairy.  yes, (sigh), I am a pescetarian.  I'm embarrassed of that word for some reason.).

On another note -- I would love to know what the craziest thing you've ever eaten was (that you actually liked).  Leave me a comment here or on Facebook, and I'll enter your name in a drawing to win a free Priscilla Ahn t-shirt and poster zine!  I've never done this before, and I don't know why I'm doing it now.  It just sounds fun.

Ok... here we go!


Like I said, this starts off tame.
Egg omelet and fresh OJ in my hotel room in Tokyo.  Looks pretty lonely, huh? 

Ochazuke - basically a rice bowl with toppings (fried egg, tuna sashimi, shiso, green onions and pickles).  After eating a bit of your rice bowl, you can add either hot green tea or dashi stock (in my case, dashi), to the rice, making it into a sort of rice soup.  So delicious and very comforting!

This was a grilled Stingray Fin, with a side of mayo.
Reminded me of Korean Jippo, slightly chewy, salty and sweet.

Vegetarian Ramen

At an Okinawan restaurant, Adan, we chomped on some of these refreshing Water Eggplant.  They were served nice and cold, on this hot and humid night.

Red Snapper Sashimi


I wish I could find these in L.A.  Native to Okinawa, this hard vegetable has a slightly bitter taste.  But mixed with a little ume (plum) dressing, it is very oishii as well as nutritious!

Soba with Summer vegetables.
Sometimes I eat soba for lunch and dinner in the same day.  It is so refreshing and light on a hot Summer day.


Rice cakes in a red spicy sauce, served with fish cakes and green onions.  
We ate these in Hongdae, in Seoul.  The Ddukbokki in L.A. doesn't even compare.

Seafood and pork stew.
I didn't have any of this because of the pork, but I did try a tiny sampling of the crazy rice cake in the lower right corner of the bowl.  It was amazing!

Gaerun Jim - Korean Egg Souffle
One of my childhood faves.  This pot was humongous!

Hot and spicy seafood soup.
Not exactly Jjamppong, which is my all-time fave, but still good. 


Lo mein noodle with a spicy sesame sauce.
So tasty!

Fried taro cakes.

Tofu and blood sausage in a spicy sesame sauce!
I didn't have this, but it smelled amazing!

Beautiful, warm, gooey mochi with sweet cream and crushed peanuts on top.

The largest mango ice slushee in my life!

Soup dumplings!!!
From the restaurant Din Tai Fung.  They have them in the U.S.!
I highly recommend this place for dumpling lovers, or even dumpling beginners.  

Soup Dumplings.
These little guys actually have a little bit of broth in them, hence the name, soup dumplings.
The broth can be scalding hot if you're not careful!

Red Bean Rice Cake.
I grew up on red bean and rice cakes, so I really loved this dessert.  Not too sweet.  Almost healthy tasting!

On our last night, stuff got nuts!
Since my friends in Taiwan know that I love soups, and hot and spicy ones at that, they took us to a Hot Pot restaurant.
Pictured here is a hot pot, divided in two, for the meat eaters at the table.
The lighter colored side is made from a bone broth (I think), with jujubes and other crazy roots and herbs.  The darker side is dark from the red spices, and from the chunks of duck blood.  You heard me right.  Duck blood.
Obviously, I didn't have any of these.  

I had my very own vegetarian pot, filled with medicinal herbs and roots.  I felt like I was getting healthier by the spoonful.  Truly!  I've never had anything like it.  Such a special treat!
Once my pot started to bubble, I filled it with seafood and fish dumplings.

Spicy peanuts with green onion and clear brown jelly noodles.
I loved this side dish!

The table was steaming with hot pots, as we sipped plum tea to whet our whistles. 

My raw seafood plate I added to my hot pot.

For dessert, plum shave ice.

The chaotic aftermath.

This restaurant was gorgeous inside.
I wish I'd grabbed a card so I could tell you the name!

Anyway, those were my food adventures this time around.  Don't forget to tell me one of yours!  :)

p. a.