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Please Just Call me Masako


Just the other day, one of my fellow workers at the restaurant I’ve been working at for the past year or so offhandedly called me “chef.” I felt so uncomfortable that without thinking, I immediately responded, almost pleadingly, “Please just call me Masako!” But this back and forth is a common occurrence for me, and so I started thinking about why exactly I feel this discomfort, unease with being called such a thing.


In my childhood home where I grew up, my parents would have guests over for dinner or lunch so often that our family often felt bigger than the four of us. Our house was very small, which meant that our kitchen and dining room were one and the same. Therefore, when someone was coming over, we would turn our tatami-floored guest bedroom – the “shinshitsu” – into a makeshift dining room, moving the temporary table into the space. The shinshitsu was also where I slept, which meant even when I was young, I always stayed up with whoever had come to eat until the moment they left. These guests were from all walks; my parents ran a steel fabrication factory, so our employees were always a given, but other nights our home would open to my parents’ friends, my school teachers, even my parents’ doctors from the hospital. I think an invitation to dinner was how my parents showed their care and generosity. What I remember so clearly from these dinners are the thoughts that hid in the corners of my own elementary school brain of “wow, these important guests, these wealthy guests,” but now I know that the kinds of friendships and bonds that my parents were creating through these evenings ran much deeper than my marvelings, and that in fact my thoughts could not have been further from the truth of their experience.


In the past few years, I too have had the blessing of getting to know people from all walks of life through communion and food. Like my own parents, I yearn to build connection, warmth, and shared joy through cooking and eating with others. I always hope I’m slowly getting there. Maybe this is why getting called “chef” feels so wrong, so uncomfortable for me.


When I was little, the majority of desserts I ate at home were made from azuki beans and rice; cakes and pastries were reserved exclusively for birthdays and Christmas time. Thus, when guests would sometimes come for dinner and bring a box of colorful, beautifully baked cookies from an upscale shop in Tokyo, I would spend hours upon hours for weeks afterwards opening the tin, deciding which cookie to eat that day, marveling and looking through each sweet. This activity was the great joy of my childhood. And when finally we had finished all of the cookies, my mother would give me the empty tin and I would use it to store all of my trinkets. To this day, these memories stick with me as vividly as yesterday. And so this year, after all this time, I am realizing my dream of making my own tin of cookies that will, I hope, make someone happy and taste delicious too. I’ve sold different cookie combinations in the past, but this time, I’ve re-tested and improved many different recipes and have settled on six different cookies – all textures and flavors unique from each other. And all organic flours, of course. I hope this little tin is something you can enjoy with family, with friends, or as a gift to someone else. To see a list of the cookie types, please take a look at the website. And there will be a surprise when you open up the box.


I will be doing just one sale this month. I will also be selling a collection of jams and marmalades that I’ve made over the course of the year using seasonal fruits. I will be waiting for you at my house with coffee and a pastry for you to eat, so give yourself a little extra time when picking up! As the end of the year approaches, I look forward to getting to see you all!


Masako

今年はどんな出会いがありましたか?


つい先日、レストランで一緒に働き始めた仲間の一人から「シェフ」と肩書きで呼ばれてすごく違和感があることに自分で気づき「雅子と呼んで」とお願いしたのです。こんなことは今までにも何度もありました。そしてよく考えたのです。なぜそう感じるのかと。


子供のころ、家族四人で暮らした小さな家にはそれはそれはよくお客さんが来て一緒に食事を食べました。なにしろ小さな家だったので台所と一緒になったダイニングにはお客さんは呼べず、いつも自分たちがすごす畳床の居間かつ寝室(夜になると居間が寝室になる)が食事の場所に変わるので私はいつもどんなお客さんがきても一緒にいました。両親が経営する鉄工所で働く職人さんはもちろん、両親の同級生、私の小学校や中学校時代の学校の先生、病院の先生。思い出そうとしたらキリがありません。どんな人でもとにかくよく食事に誘うのです。ただ母や父と一緒にその食事会に参加して思い出すことは、私が小さいなりに頭の片隅で思った「偉い人、お金持ち」などといった基準のフィルターとは全くほど遠いところで両親は友人を作り、食事に招きそれはそれは楽しい時間を過ごしていたように思います。


私もこの数年で本当に色々な人と食を通じて巡り合うことができました。私も両親と同じように人と楽しい時間を作りたい。そうなれているのかしら?なれるのかしら?そういつも思うからこそ、シェフと呼ばれるがとても嫌だったのかもしれません。


私が子供のころ、小豆やお米でできたお菓子がほとんどでケーキやクッキーを食べることは家族の誕生日かクリスマスの時だけと決まっていました。そんな時代、家に来たお客さんから東京の高級洋菓子店の色とりどりのクッキーの入った缶をいただくと自分が一番にその缶をあけて念入りに観察した後、どれから一番先に食べようかと缶を開けながら毎回どれだけ幸せな気分になったことか。そして空っぽになったその缶を母からもらうと自分の宝物入れとして使うのです。その記憶が今でもはっきり残っています。いつか自分も見て楽しい、食べて美味しい、幸せな気分になれるクッキー缶を作りたい、その夢を今月実現させることにしました。以前には数種類のクッキーを販売したこともありますが、今回はレベルが違います。食感、風味、材料に工夫を凝らしながら7種類ほどのクッキーを缶に詰めました。もちろんクッキーに使う粉も自家製粉です。家族、お友達と、そしてホリデーの素敵な贈り物としても絶対喜ばれることでしょう。具体的なクッキーの種類はサイトをご覧ください。そして、缶を開けてのサプライズがあるかもしれません。それはお楽しみに。


今月は一回のセールになります。1年を通して人気のあった季節のジャムやマーマレードもまとめて販売します。当日はコーヒーとペーストリーを用意してお待ちしておりますので時間に余裕を持ってお越しください。今年の締めくくり、皆さんにお会いできるのを楽しみにしています。

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