The Path Home + Moving Forward

 watermelon radish salad in spiky bowl

After a decade of adventure, wondering at the world and learning how to be comfortable with the unfamiliar: I’ve come home.

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What does home mean, exactly? Is home where the heart is?

My heart is all over the world: in every country I’ve been to, in every country I desire to explore, in every new adventure, in every meal.

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Is home the place you’re most familiar with? The place you relate to most?

I’ve become more comfortable with exploring new lands than plunging my roots into the ground to stay in one place. The foreign feeling I experience in the country of my birth is more pronounced than that of being a stranger in a foreign land.

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Is home a place? A person? An idea? Is it limited by what I know and where I’ve been? Can it transcend those limitations?

All of the above?

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Here I am… Adjusting. Battling. Identifying. Trying to avoid having the same conversation everyday but also to avoid complacency. I’m also trying to avoid being too annoying to myself. First World Problems.

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For the moment, because I cannot claim to know what it will mean tomorrow, home can be identified in a decision; a path to refine my skills and to deepen my relationship to cuisine and food. I’m going to culinary school.

 fancy mac n' cheese with watermelon radish salad autumn in the Berkshires

Going to Korea to teach English to children was not exactly following my career trajectory. Adventure was a necessity and I found myself learning more about the world than I thought possible. In short, I put my career on hold to find out what I’m made of. Finally, when I made the decision to return, it was with clear intensions and strong passion. I’m ready to follow my path and keep moving forward. Take me home!

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Bite: Eat Real Ramen

When most of us think of ramen noodles, we think of the instant rubbish that is made from the cheapest ingredients and produces the cheapest meal we can find. University student survival food. This is unfortunate. Real ramen is a delight. It should be on everyone’s list of Foods to Try Before You Die. While in Kyoto, I ate some excellent curry ramen from a shop downstairs from my hosts home. We placed our orders from a vending machine and gave our tickets to the cooks. After a few minutes of mysterious hand movements and magic noodle wizardry, our meals we produced. Fresh, healthy(ier) and delicious. One more tick, off the food bucket list.real curry ramen.jpg

Toji Temple

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Temples and Shrines

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Geisha

While roaming around Gion, the Geisha district in Kyoto, I had desperately hoped to spot geisha doing their thing on the streets. As I found out, they are as elusive to spot as a hummingbirds. So, to satiate ourselves, my friends and I went to a wee geisha show.

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It was very exciting, especially since I was chosen to wear a kimono on stage. I am not posting photos of myself, as I pretty much looked like a tool.

Bite: Natto

About 1,000 years ago, some Japanese soldiers were attacked while boiling soybeans for their horses. They quickly stuffed the beans into straw bags and when they finally got around to unpacking them a few days later, they had fermented. The soldiers ate them anyway. Thus, the beginnings of natto.

Today, natto is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis.  The fermentation process creates a slimy, stringy texture and rather pungent, stinky cheese like odour. This stuff is awesome. I was warned by my couchsurfing host in Kyoto to avoid getting any on fabrics as it is difficult to remove. I believe you and heed your warning.

I don’t know if it is easy to acquire outside of Japan, but if you find some, it is worth a try.

The similar Korean version is called cheonggukjang. It is even stinkier.
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Buds and Blooms in Kyoto

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