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betsuni

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Member since: Sat Nov 30, 2013, 05:06 AM
Number of posts: 9,868

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Writing about food: Anniversary of Japan's World War II surrender.

From John W. Dower's "Embracing Defeat":

"Based on a research report by local army officials, the emperor's loyal subjects were encouraged to supplement their starch intake by introducing such items as acorns, grain husks, peanut shells, and sawdust to their household larder. (Sawdust, it was explained, could be broken down with a fermenting agent, transformed into a powder, and mixed in a ratio of one to four with flour to make dumplings, pancakes, or bread.) For minerals, people were encouraged to introduce used tea leaves and the seeds, blossoms, and leaves of roses to their diet. Protein deficiencies could be remedied by eating silkworm cocoons, worms, grasshoppers, mice, rats, moles, snails, snakes, or a powder made by drying the blood of cows, horses, and pigs. ... The press reproduced these dietary recommendations shortly before the emperor's surrender broadcast ... . .... A young schoolgirl's first thought on hearing the emperor's broadcast was that she would not have to look eyeball to eyeball at frogs anymore -- a reference to the practice of sending children out to catch frogs to eat. As it turned out, her intimation of relief was premature.

"Defeat did not merely sever Japan from the food supplies of Asia. It also occurred in midsummer, when the previous year's rice harvest was running out. With the empire now cut off and millions of exhausted civilians and demobilized soldiers about to return, it was imperative that there be a bumper crop. Instead, due to adverse weather, manpower shortages, insufficient tools, and a fall-off in fertilizer production, 1945 saw the most disastrous harvest since 1910 ... .

"Many farmers engaged in a gratifying barter trade with once-condescending city folk who flocked to rural areas in search of food. Kimonos as well as watches, jewelry, and other treasured possessions were traded for food, giving rise to one of the most famous phrases of the time: takenoko seikatsu, the 'bamboo existence.' The edible bamboo shoot can be peeled off in layers, and the takenoko seikatsu phenomenon referred to city people stripping off their clothing, as well as their possessions, for food. ... Food-fixated activities and stories mesmerized the public. In September 1946, 'bread-eating races' became a fad in elementary-school athletic contests. Competitors in this popular event had to run up to a roll suspended on a string and then eat it without using their hands. In such a race, needless to say, there were no losers."

Writing about food: Happy Birthday to Andy Warhol, "The Andy Warhol Diaries"

Wednesday, December 20, 1978
... just as I was leaving the office I noticed in the book that it was the night of Jackie O's Christmas party ... . Cocktails were from 6:00 to 8:00 and then dinner was being served for the people who didn't leave. It was really good food -- baked ham and some new potato salad with red lettuce from Cape Cod -- she always goes to the best shops. Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton were there, and Bob heard -- overheard -- Jakie saying that something Warren did in the hall was 'disgusting,' but we were never able to find out what it was.

Monday, December 31, 1979
Marina invited me up for pizza and I went. I always hear that she gets the best food from all over the city, that she has the people who work for her bring salami from Brooklyn and pizza from Queens and things like that, so I wanted to try it out. It was sort of good, a really cheap kind of pizza, all dough and a little ketchup and a little cheese. Like the cheese doesn't come away when you eat it, there's not much. And when I was there I noticed that she had a pile of food on the stove, and she said it was for good luck, you're supposed to have it piled on the stove on New Year's.

Wednesday, June 4, 1980,
We got to Lynn Wyatt's house, fifty people for dinner, and she had cream of crab soup and barbequed filet mignon that'd been marinated for twenty-four hours and hot curried fruit and homemade Rice-a-Roni which Joan Quinn who was there said was Armenian-style. And creamed spinach and then this great dessert which was fruit ice cream piled onto a big meringue.

Wednesday, September 24, 1980
Went upstairs and they'd left a package of Godiva chocolates and I ate the centers out of them. I opened every center. And they left a bottle of brandy so I drank that. And a basket of fruit and I ate all the kiwis. Got sugared up and I guess I passed out but I woke up an hour later.

Wednesday, October 8, 1980
Then she began telling me food stories ... like how she once went to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and ordered a three-pound lobster and a nice waitress brought it to her but it didn't look like three pounds to Brigid. Brigid said, 'I am a compulsive eater and I know my food and this is not a three-pound lobster.' This lobster was costing like $39. ... So Brigid said, 'Then let's go weigh it, and if this lobster is three pounds I'll give you $10.' So they went into the kitchen and put it on a scale and it weighed less than one pound!

Saturday, November 15, 1980
We were going to a monastery and we had to be there at 12:00 ... . Herman drove really fast in this pouring rain. After we got there we weren't allowed to say one word to each other. We went into the lunchroom and then the monk read something for twenty minutes while we ate our lunch -- sour apple cider and lentil soup which tasted like canned to me but when I said so everyone just looked at me like I'm crazy, but -- I think I know my soup.

Monday, March 9, 1981
The first food was fresh liver, the goose was just killed in the kitchen and the liver was just taken out and cut into slices and warmed up -- half warmed by the heat, half warmed by the goose. It was delicious, but after you thought about it you wanted to throw up. The second course was soup. Then lobster with baby quail -- you got the breast of a little quail as big as your fingernail. It was really good, but so sad, like eating the chest of a roach. Then between courses we had some sherbet and they made it look like Jackson Pollack because they pureed fresh kiwi and strawberries and threw them on a plate. Artistic. Then they had lamb encrusted and it was the best lamb I ever had encrusted.
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