Umami: the taste we love but can't describe

Jul 19, 2014

Umami: the taste we love but can't describe

by Melinda Joe

The word “umami” is, in many ways, literally a mouthful. First coined in 1909 by Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda, the term translates roughly as “deliciousness.” With its satisfying, round consonants and open vowel sounds, the word approaches onomatopoeia — a phonetic approximation of the ...

Why not add a little booze?

| May 20, 2014

Why not add a little booze?

by Makiko Itoh

Mirin is a staple of Japanese kitchens, yet few people know what it actually is. Although these days it’s thought of solely as a cooking ingredient, mirin was originally regarded as an expensive, high-class beverage. It was the tipple of choice of wealthy ladies, ...

Springtime for bamboo

| Apr 15, 2014

Springtime for bamboo

by Makiko Itoh

Few plants are as useful as bamboo. A member of the grass family, it is fast growing and very prolific given the right growing conditions, which makes it eco-friendly too. The bamboo plant is indispensable in the Japanese kitchen, where every part of it ...

Dec 6, 2012

No shortcut to the master level

A thank you to Amy Chavez for her Dec. 1 column, “The best-ever tips on learning Japanese.” I am pleased that Chavez knows how to write the truth with heart. Her article is the stake in the heart of those that whine about Japanese ...