DC has become the window to the world, as the ethnic makeup of this city is just astounding. Our Ethiopian limo driver last evening (Wed) said there are over 200,000 Ethiopians in the DC area. For those of you unfamiliar, DC is made up of several neighborhoods, though it is often thought of as a homogeneous mass of people, with the Middle Class in the surrounding suburbs. Not so true!
I made a visit on March 20, 2009 to the Morika Tofu Company in Kyoto, Japan. They are always voted “best tofu” in the entire world, each and every year.
In Japan, and parts of Asia, tofu making is considered an art. Ideally, tofu is made every morning in small shops around Japan. Kyoto is to tofu what New York is to pizza, and Chicago to hot dogs. The Kyoto variety has been perfected over centuries by Buddhist monks, as well as in imperial kitchens and small, artisan shops like Morika. It is the gold standard, the best in Japan, and therefore, the world.
The thing that turns tonyu, or soy milk, into tofu is called nigari. Crystals of magnesium chloride act as a coagulant, much as rennin makes cheese curds out of cow’s milk. The familiar, firm, square-cut variety is called momen-dofu, meaning “cotton tofu,” as it was traditionally pressed over a porous cloth. Kinugoshi-dofu means “silken tofu,” and while silk isn’t actually used to prepare it, the name makes sense: It is a wet, jiggly tofu with the silken creaminess of a custard—the best a soybean can be. (from Adam Sachs)
So, why Kyoto? Much like Olympia beer in Tumwater, Washington, they say it’s the water in Kyoto. Kyoto has good quality water thanks to hundreds of underground springs. It is a soft water, and good for making tofu. Secondly, Kyoto grows high quality soy beans. The third, and perhaps most important reason, are the many temples around Kyoto. The priests in these temples are against killing animals.
Each tofu shop has a long history and tradition. Competition is fierce. Though the birthplace of tofu was in China, it spread to other countries. Some of the famous shops in Kyoto:
1) Morika, of course. Established 140 years ago. The originator of Kyo-tofu.
2) Junsei. Famous for its yudoufu (tofu immersed in hot kelp soup).
3) Toyoukeya Yamamoto. Established in 1898, also sells yuba and age.
4) Yubanzai Komameya. Affordable yuba dishes exclusively.
Several arguments exist over when the best time to eat tofu might be. Diehards will say anytime. Purists will say only at lunch time. I say, whenever you take an expensive taxi ride from your hotel in Kyoto, to the outskirts of town where Morika Tofu is made. It might only be once in a lifetime. In my case, it was most likely the world’s most expensive tofu.
Here is the link to my blog: http://www.travelblog.org › Asia › Japan › Kyoto › Kyoto › Blogs
Part of the story:
So, it was about a $60 ride to Morika, and then back to our drop off point. The tofu was about $5 each. So $70 for 2 blocks of tofu, and one small piece of yaki tofu. But worth every penny since we enjoyed our banter with the driver. He gave Sheri his prayer beads as a token of his appreciation. We felt very honored. When we ate the tofu, it simply melted in our mouth.
Did you know that April starts on the same day as July in all years? And that on the same day as January in Leap Years. April ends on the same day as December in all years. April was added to the calendar by King Numa Pompilius around 700 BC. It has stuck around since.
April is known mainly for two events. One is the purely silly and jocular April Fool’s Day (April 1st). The other is the often dreaded day the tax man cometh, April 15th. Both Federal and State tax returns are due on that day, unless you file for an extension. April is also a lovely name for a girl, as witnessed by the lovely April Campbell, long time friend and associate, now pursuing a professorial career, while happily married and the mother of two handsome young boys.
The April birthstone is the diamond. The April flower is either the sweet pea or the daisy. Other April events are: National Poetry Writing Month, Sex Month, Jazz Appreciation Month, Easter, Arbor Day, World Health Day (April 7), Buddha’s Birthday (April 8), the Boston Marathon (3rd Monday), and Opening Day (first Sunday) for sailboats.
This is one of the best April Fool’s jokes ever perpetrated on mankind. I say man, since most men like baseball.
The April 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated contained a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and he could reportedly throw a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. This was 65 mph faster than the previous record. Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the “art of the pitch” in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the “great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa.” Mets fans celebrated their teams’ amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and they flooded Sports Illustrated with requests for more information. In reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the author of the article, George Plimpton, who left a clue in the sub-heading of the article: “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd’s deciding about yoga —and his future in baseball.” The first letter of each of these words, taken together, spelled “H-a-p-p-y A-p-r-i-l F-o-o-l-s D-a-y — A-h F-i-b”.
Second best hoax: The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers on 1 April 1996, announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
Exactly one hundred years ago (1812), on tax day (April 15), the Titanic struck and iceberg and sank. The Peloponnesian War ended on April 25, 404 BC. On April 8, 1974, Henry Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record with his 715th home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers.