Happy New Year all! I hope everyone has had a restful holiday season and is as excited as I am for the coming year. For me, this past year has gone by in a blur of projects and events, leaving little time for relaxing with friends or even my family. The cooking class project Sumi and I started together continues to blossom, and we recently decided that Sumi would continue to teach on her own. This is because this past year was also when I came to realize that the greatest joy I extract from cooking is not in teaching groups of people, but rather cooking and making by myself and then sharing the fruits of that work with a select few. Perhaps this realization came from my experience running a small popup a few months ago; it was maybe the most fun with cooking for people that I have had. I am currently in the planning and organizing process for the next one.
On the note of the popup, I feel like this past year has been a time of reflection for me regarding my cooking. I have looked far back at my childhood memories of making food with my mother, of projects that paralleled the coming and going of seasons, weather patterns, climate: pounding mochi, putting together osechi New Years breakfast, pickling the seasonal vegetables. My mind is flooded with these memories, and a strange, distant sort of homesickness pushes me to continue to create as I remember the Japanese seasons - dried persimmon, miso, wagashi: when all compiled, the number of projects adds up to more than forty. Flipping through the calendar and looking at the collection of seasonal items that line my countertop and shelves, I don’t even need a list or an alarm to remind of what needs to be done. Instead, my mind and my hands move naturally in unison with the memories from my childhood and my home. Yes, my year was incredibly busy, and projects like this only added to my load, but they are also how I mark the passing of time. Perhaps this is what it means to live with the seasons. Here in America, food projects are marked by holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but somehow those markers are lacking in depth and complexity to me. The Japanese year is traditionally divided not into four but rather twenty four seasons, each named after the processes of picking, harvesting, making and eating that unfold during that time. In this way, the passing of time feels less like a few distinct chapters, but rather a story that continues without break, one sentence flowing into the next.
Anyways, I am thinking, in the wake of this New Year, of starting to bake bread and other small things for my community. I am working on getting that information (about distribution dates, prices, etc.) up on the website, so please look out for that. And as always, in line with my own philosophy, this project will be local and small scale, a means of connecting my friends and the community around me through the vehicle of good food.