Making an Effort


On my second day in Japan, which was rather immediate since I arrived late at night, and after having my first morning of training, I was invited to lunch.  If I remember correctly, the “trainer” was given a lunch in lieu of payment for the extra assignment.  In fact, he told me that I should eat as much of the food as I could in that first house because that would be the last perk the company would provide.

The trainer and I–honestly, I do not remember his name and I am too lazy to consult the journal I kept of that time.–went to a restaurant near the school. I only ever ate there once, but it was a typical non-chain restaurant that dotted the streets around the main JR train station in Wakayama.  Being new to Japan and Japanese food, I ordered the “hamburg set”.  This was more like a meatball in some sauce along rice, vegetables and pickles.  It wasn’t sushi, but not all of Japanese food is.  I have come to appreciate lots of other Japanese dishes that aren’t the ones that get most of the attention.  When the food came, the trainer explained to me that his Japanese was good enough to get me a fork, but that it would be better to use chopsticks as I would learn sooner.  While I later learned that his claim of his “Japanese being good enough” was a bit ridiculous because I could have just said “fork” and I would have been given one, his advice about chopsticks was correct.  You only get better with practice and it is never too early to start.

What’s all this got to do with Today’s Perfect Moment? Last night, my girlfriend and I went out for some Korean food and ate our meal with metal Korean chopsticks.  It had been quite some time since we had eaten Asian food.  We both noticed that her technique and ability had improved quite a lot.  I asked her if she had been practicing, but she said no.

I make a big deal about using chopsticks in this blog, but really it is a rather mundane part of my life. I’ve got a drawer full of chopsticks, and they get used for a lot of things.  For some dishes, chopsticks are a go to and others are not.  However, I often forget that they are not as easy for some people.  Some people have not eaten salad, or eggs, or hamburger with chopsticks.

I appreciate the effort she is making. When we were finished, she asked the difficult question.  “Am I ready for ramen?”  I so desperately want to share this dish with her, especially since a whole pile of decent–though horribly overpriced–places have opened in the GTA.

Fearing that I didn’t hear her, she asked again. “Am I ready for ramen?”  One step at a time, Grasshopper.  One step at a time.

About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.
This entry was posted in accomplishment, comfort food, eating, efficiency, ethnic food, food, food blogging, Japan, Korean, perfect moment, practice, ramen and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Making an Effort

  1. I was using chopsticks before I moved to China, as were my children, so that an issue. I also knew how to ask for a pair of provided with a fork. However, being left handed, and having two daughters who also have this gift, would often draw an audience!
    I think I have to look into all this fuss about ramen.

    • Anthony says:

      When done well, it can be delicious.

      • I looked it up. Not new for me after all – we often had ramen in China. Cannot recall what we called. Seems a bit late to have become popular here.

      • Anthony says:

        Well, noodles in some kind of soup have been around for a long time, and have different variations around Asia. When I first came back, most restaurants could not do both the soup and the noodles. It was very frustrating. I think it has a lot to do with the amount of cooking time needed to make the broth.
        I recommend watching Juzo Itami’s movie Tampopo for an idea of how seriously it can be taken.

  2. I don’t know how to use chopsticks…I try every so often, and the kids try to teach me, but…nope. 😉

    I stick chopsticks in crooked house plants.

  3. Andy says:

    A classic story

  4. Hunida says:

    Aww!!! Bring her to try the ramen, even if she needs a fork lol. That’s so cute how she asked if she was ready!

    I taught boyfriend how to use chopsticks so quickly– I almost forgot he didn’t know how to when I met him. We both prefer them over forks most of the time, too, now. 😊

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