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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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food memories

kimono drawing

When I was a teenager, my mother showed me how to make norimaki (sushi rolled in seaweed). My main focus was on getting to the end result so I could eat it, but I also remember the comforting sweet/vinegary fragrance of the sushi rice as we chopped and tasted and talked. Mom used to laugh and say that she was teaching me so I could make these foods for her if she ever got sick. And when she got sick with lung cancer years later, I made norimake again, trying not to weep into the rice as I did so. I remember how gratifying it was to see her smile when I brought the food to her in the hospital. Not much made her smile in those days.

There are other childhood foods, though, that I miss. Some I could possibly learn to do myself, others I miss more because of the context rather than the food itself:

-- Sukiyaki: I loved communal family cooking. I remember us gathering around the electric skillet on the table, grabbing cooked beef slices and mushrooms and noodles with our chopsticks. I used to call the vermicelli noodles "worms" and refused to touch them.

-- Rice with egg: This might gross some people out, but it a special treat for me as a kid. Mom would give me a bowl of freshly cooked white rice, break a raw egg into it, stir it up with some shoyu (soy sauce). Yummmmmmmmmm. I used to make it for myself as an adult until I found out that we weren't supposed to eat raw chicken's eggs anymore. :-(

-- Fresh cherry juice: I remember when we lived with my grandparents in East York, Grandpa would pick fruit from the cherry tree that grew beside the driveway and make cherry juice for us. Delicious! I loved that cherry tree, at least until it dropped one of its branches onto our Volkswagon and crushed in the roof (fortunately no one was in the car at the time). I remember Grandma used to show us how to use cooked rice grains instead of glue in our crafts at home (Japanese rice is much stickier than Western rice).

-- Sweet Red bean thingy: Don't remember much about this, except that my mother made it for special occasions and put it in a special red laquerware container. It was served cold, and was pretty sweet.

-- Rice balls: I've always thought rice balls were such a great idea: very compact, portable, and you could vary the filling (if you used filling, that is). Mom usually used pickled plum as a filling. The outside was coated with sesame seeds, or covered with nori (dried seaweed).

Mmmm...I'm hungry. Better go eat breakfast before I start gnawing on my keyboard...

Today's pics:

- I had the urge to do the equivalent of finger-painting yesterday evening...something silly, fun, completely unrelated to my day-to-day work. So I played around with Painter, experimenting with paper textures.

Today's Poll: (Courtesy Sherman Dorn)

Do you own a bicycle?

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