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Rick Lapointe
For Rick Lapointe's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Apr 14, 2002
Watercress: a visitor welcome at any table
When Europeans first came into contact with the New World in the 15th century, the course of food history shifted. The vast continents of the Americas offered a wealth of previously unknown foods to the explorers. There were some foods, such as wheat, that the newcomers had brought with them and introduced...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Apr 7, 2002
Savoring sweet memories of fallen blossoms
The magnificent cherry blossoms came and went much earlier than usual this year in many parts of Japan. Spring-term opening ceremonies at elementary schools across the country will be without their usual bloom. Here on the mountainside east of Osaka, however, many trees are still at their peak and this...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Mar 31, 2002
Fancy a bowl of baby eels?
...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Mar 24, 2002
What squids shine in yonder bay
Squid, octopus and cuttlefish belong to a large group of marine invertebrates called cephalopods. The word means foot-headed, and it is an appropriate name for these creatures because their tentacle feet sprout from above their eyes and brain. They are found all over, and sometimes in the stomachs of...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Mar 17, 2002
In search of the hidden children of bamboo
While I was growing up, bamboo shoots were an exotic vegetable that came from a can bearing foreign characters — foreign to my American eyes, that is. Despite the slight preservative and tin-can flavor, the tender shoots remained one of the delicacies that deepened my interest in the cuisine of...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Mar 3, 2002
A simple, elegant mix to celebrate girl power
I first encountered the Hina Matsuri (Girls' Day, or Doll Festival) as a youngster in Washington, D.C., when my father and I attended an event hosted by future Prime Minister Yoshio Mori at the then new Japanese Embassy. As we entered the grand foyer of the modern concrete building, we saw a stadium...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Feb 24, 2002
Sansai-gayu : a porridge found further afield
There is perhaps nothing more rewarding for a chef than to get out into the field and secure the best ingredients possible: vegetables, dry goods, fish and seasonings. The early spring is especially exciting because the season for foraging wild plants officially begins.
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Feb 17, 2002
Mmmm . . . tastes like crab
In virtually every cuisine on the planet, there are attempts to dress food up and make it look like something it isn't. Whether it's a classical Chinese cook carving vegetables to make them look like a phoenix, or a French chef twisting his bread dough to resemble a lobster, food often appears in costume....
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Feb 10, 2002
Taste of a new season springs eternal in nanohana
There are several children's songs that herald the coming of spring by declaring that the nanohana has blossomed. Brilliant yellow fields of these first flowers of warm weather dot the countryside, and nanohana — young shoots of the aburana — are one of the first vegetables to appear on the...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Feb 3, 2002
Are you ready to roll with the change on 'setsubun no hi'?
Today is arguably one of the strangest holidays to be observed in Japan: setsubun no hi, the turning of the seasons. Parents around the country strap on plastic ogre-masks and hop around the house while their young children pelt them with dried beans, yelling, "Demons out, good luck in." Beans are scattered...
COMMUNITY
Feb 3, 2002
Mix a little something in your sake
Lining the back alleyways of the Minami district of Osaka there are dozens of small restaurants that just serve fugu -- blowfish -- world-famous for its potentially fatal flesh. Outside these shops there invariably rests a wooden board of some kind that is plastered with what appear to be decorative...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Jan 27, 2002
Harnessing the preservative power of the sun
Culinary standards are often determined by prosperity. In Japan's past, food was not always as abundant as it is now. In lean harvest years, there was no rice to import from foreign nations and no cheap vegetable stocks to rely on when the local crop failed. Polished white rice was scarce among peasants...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Jan 20, 2002
It's not just tsukemono — it's a responsibility
Pickling is one of the oldest methods of preserving the flavor and nutrients of fresh vegetables. In Japan, pickles (tsukemono) are classified by the main ingredient, the pickling medium and the length of pickling. Most pickles are vegetables but sometimes meats and fish are used. The pickling medium...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Jan 13, 2002
Daikon breathes life into dead of winter
The current watchwords for trends in Western cooking are fresh and local. The chef's ideal is to use ingredients harvested as close as possible to the site where they will be transformed into a meal. While modern greenhouse-farming techniques have certainly extended the growing season of many vegetables,...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Jan 6, 2002
Starting at the root of Japanese cooking
A samurai party — pungent as daikon radish their conversation! — Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
COMMUNITY
Dec 30, 2001
Simple soup serves up a year's good luck
From behind the big punch bowl, in the lower cupboard of the cabinet that dominates the dining room, Reiko pulls out the lacquered vessels. They are coal-black, with bright gold-and-silver images of pine boughs, bamboo stalks and plum blossoms.
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Dec 30, 2001
This will be the last slurp of the rest of your year
Even if preparing other Japanese New Year's dishes seems beyond your ability, you can't go wrong with toshikoshi ("year-crossing") soba, the noodles eaten just before midnight on o-misoka, New Year's Eve.
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Dec 23, 2001
Kazu no ko — an eggcellent winter delicacy
Salted herring roe, kazu no ko, has been a staple of northern climate native fishing populations for as long as man has been casting a net into the ocean. Tribal groups in Alaska, aboriginal Scandinavians and the indigenous groups of Northern Japan have long considered this preserved food a delicacy,...
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Dec 16, 2001
Tazukuri: an acquired taste worth acquiring
The o-sechi foods of the New Year exemplify traditional Japanese cuisine, utilizing the fruits of the mountains and the bounty of the ocean to celebrate all of the gifts that nature provides. Nowhere is this land-and-sea pairing more evident than in the classic sanshu-zakana triumvirate of black beans...
Japan Times
LIFE / Food & Drink / THE WAY OF WASHOKU
Dec 9, 2001
Black beans for a fruitful new year
I have cooked dried beans in the past — lots and lots of dried beans — but have never taken as much care as I now do when I prepare kuromame, the elegant sweetened black beans eaten during o-shogatsu, the New Year celebration. The first year I was allowed to watch (for the first several years...

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Things may look perfect to the outside world, but today's mom is fine with some imperfection at home.
How 'Reiwa moms' are reshaping motherhood in Japan