COOKING, JEANS AND SOUL - Part 1
7/27/2017 6:36:38 PM - "This is amazing Monday!"  

As much as I want to say they were commenting on my music, it was for something else; at a gathering at a friends' house, we had just finished feasting on raclette and I'd contributed a dessert, an experimental tiramisu:  lady fingers soaked in ceremonial green tea (layer one) and local raspberry wine (layer two) as opposed to the traditional espresso, white chocolate infused with the marscapone cream, and served with a light dusting of the ceremonial green tea powder.  I thought it was a great combination of tastes, and also represented my Japanese and Italian ancestry.  We were a mix of Europeans and Americans, and everybody was familiar with the traditional Italian tiramisu to understand the twist I'd taken and surprised at the harmony of unexpected ingredients.  

I can't take credit, though, for brainstorming this on my own.  Many years ago, while dining at one of my favorite Manhattan restaurants, Cafe Bouley, I was treated to a white chocolate mousse with ceremonial green tea and realized what a perfect combination the white chocolate and green tea was.  It also reminded me of the many interesting desserts one can find in Japan's "depachika," the basement level of major department stores where they offer eye popping assortment of foods in display cases -- heaven.  While looking up a recipe for a white chocolate tiramisu (I was convinced this was already created by SOMEBODY, and sure enough, there it was in the Food Network site), they suggested serving it with fresh raspberries and I remembered a tasting I'd done recently at a local winery of raspberry dessert wine which I thought could work well.  In another words, other people's ideas inspired me to come up with my own twist on this tiramisu and it worked!  

It's always been my take on cooking (and eating) food, to combine flavors and create different dishes, from when I was in my late teens.  Why not use shiitake instead of regular mushrooms?  Why not substitute fresh fruit such as oranges instead of using tomatoes in a salad?  Why not make pesto out of arugula, or flavor a ceviche with shiso (perilla) instead of cilantro?  Today many top chefs worldwide are doing just that, recreating traditional dishes by substituting certain ingredients to create a whole new dish, a genre which used to be called "nouvelle" in the '80s and is recently renamed that despicable word in certain music cricles:  fusion.  With the globalization era in which the internet has shrunk our world into a laptop, information is easy to get, and ingredients unknown to many only a decade ago can be found in almost any urban grocery shop worldwide.  Mix that with a little imagination and ingenuity and anyone can cook like Nobu.  Well, it helps to have talent and a good palate.  Me, I'm fueled by my desire to eat, hence I cook.  

I take this same approach with music as well as with my general clothing style, with a similar understanding of what works and doesn't work for me.  For example, with fashion, I know that a skirt in a certain length works against my height and over enhance my bowlegged silhouette, or a certain color can wash out my olive-yellow complexion and make me look a million years old.  Wearing too ethnic clothing will make me look like I'm F.O.B. from Nepal, and tight white clothing shows every inch of flab I'd otherwise want to hide.  A certain pink works great for me, but if it's the wrong pink, it can either look like I'm trying too hard to look young, or the paler shade will accuse me of being an Asian trying to camoulage herself into a W.A.S.P. society.  And it goes on.  It's a live and learn knowledge with a lot of trial and error as personal likes and dislikes that I'm sure many of us have gone through (or are still going through), but eventually you get the hang of it.  Who cares about fashion if you look silly, highlight a flaw, or generally look like sh*t?

Same with music.  The world of music was already pretty small when I was coming into my own and I never questioned if you had to be black or white or purple to have the right to sing or feel soul (Carol King already broke that barrier in my book), rock (Jimi Hendrix), jazz (look at my mother), reggae (to me, The Police who were doing a combination of ska, rock and pop were king), etc.  So when I read a snide blog comment accusing me of musically trying to be something I'm not, I can't help but wonder what this person thinks I should be?  Another also said he got the feeling I was a "geek" which I had to laugh at -- not because it's outlandish, but because it's actually sort of true!  In reference to the "geek" comment, I have to insert that this is probably a little of the "otaku" culture that I think I might be slightly a part of where I'm just immersed in it and have little time or energy towards developing other parts of myself, and also I'm just a "nice" person (with fragments of bitchy-ness) -- I don't try to act cool or put up a front or an attitude.  Why?  It's just an exterior mask to me, an affectation that I'm too lazy to acquire to appear to be with the in crowd.  I'd rather be nice, be humble (because I really feel that way, not pretending), and sincerely feel grateful towards the people around me for accepting me into their lives and hope that I can contribute in some positive way.  All while doing what I aim for, whatever that might be.

But getting back to the comment of trying to be something that I'm not, I beg to question if this person really knows what I am, or what I'm not?  My guess would have to be a big ol' fat NO.  Heck, I'm still getting to know myself, so how can this person who is not a part of my life in any shape or form know what I think, how I feel, why I do what I do, let alone why I choose to make and sing the type of music I do.  Is it that s/he thinks I should do Japanese infused music because I look primarily Asian?  Or sing Italian opera as is my partial genetic roots?  Or is it that my mixture of styles is confusing to the listener and make some think I'm just confused myself?  

(cont'd)
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