Not long ago, I found the world of food blogs online and sank into the routine of regularly reading a few of them. Not until I saw these sites, did I think of becoming a food writer. I have always loved the time I spent with good food, and I have always thought wishfully of becoming a writer, but haven’t known what to write about. Putting the two interests together was incredibly easy thanks to some inspiration.
Why call my blog ‘Cooking with Chopsticks?’
Although good food and cooking have always had a strong presence in my life, since coming in Kyoto, Japan for a year of study abroad in college, I have fallen in love with Japanese flavors and techniques.
Helping my host mother (Okaasan) in the kitchen, I became familiar with using Japanese cooking utensils, most prominent of which are chopsticks. They can be used to either stir, whisk, drain, poke, flip, and taste test food. Since that time, I’ve often found myself using chopsticks even when the dish I’m preparing is not Japanese. For one, I can hardly bring myself to scramble eggs with a fork anymore.
For those of you familiar with Eric Gower, author of The Breakaway Kitchen, take a look at this essay about chopsticks! I agree with him completely, except that he says no one in their right mind likes setting the table… what about the aesthetics of arranging all the beautiful objects in harmony on the table?
The Way of Food, my Philosophy
Living again in Kyoto, I’m discovering that food and flavors can be as finely tuned as the angle of a wrist when placing a tea bowl in a tea ceremony. In the way of tea (sado), perfection is always strived for, though rarely obtained (especially by me). But in those moments when a glimpse of perfection offers itself, it can draw me to tears. In the same way, when I receive even a mouthfull of finely balanced flavors, I feel a moment of complete satisfaction. I strive for exactly that fulfillment in my own kitchen.
Stress and Homesickness as Muses
Currently, I am an English teacher at a large, international school, a job that holds more than enough stress for me. Thankfully, I can find a sense of peace and a return to simplicity cooking for myself in my tiny manshon kitchen.
Having grown up in far away Oregon and southern Germany, in a family that loves cooking, eating, and the hours spent together in the kitchen, I try to recreate home in my bowl. That means using family recipes, but also using my family’s cooking creativity and diving into new recipes or simply dreaming up a new balance of familiar ingredients while puttering around the supermarket.
Kyoto, the city
At the same time, I’m both inspired and daunted by the rich culinary heritage in Kyoto. There are so many unusual ingredients, anything from bright red carrots to glutinous, tofu-like o-fu, so many specialty shops selling delicacies like an or matcha-based sweets or the widest selection of pickled vegetables imaginable, and so many restaurants impossible to find without a detailed map.
Having made a few discoveries already and finding almost no helpful information on the internet, I created this site to represent the world of food in Kyoto and in my kitchen to the food blogging world. Yoroshiku onegai itashimasu!