Before I got married, I was not terribly interested in food. I mainly ate to stay alive. Of course, I enjoyed eating good food, but my parameters for good food were pretty narrow. Very “American”, as my Japanese wife would say with a kindly sneer. Growing up my parents tried to expose my brothers and I to different kinds of food. They weren’t bad cooks either. We were just so damn picky. I look back and think, “Man, we were sh*ts…” I remember smuggling food into the bathroom to throw away if I didn’t like it.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m living with my soon-to-be-wife in an (of course tiny) apartment in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo. And all of sudden, dinner is a BIG DEAL. She’s stopping at the store after work every night (also because our fridge was the size of a postage stamp), coming home to make soup and salads and meat with sauces and noodles and tempura and…I am just on the couch (also the size of a postage stamp) wondering what’s going on.
It didn’t take long for me to get off the couch, though. First of all, I was hungry, and I figured if I pitched in dinner would be available faster. Also, making dinner seemed to involve lots of snacking and drinking along the way. By the time we sat down to actually eat I was half-stuffed and tipsy.
As time went on I learned a few recipes of my own and picked up a few from my wife. I paid attention to spices and ingredients. We watched a lot of Iron Chef America. I graduated from hopeless bumbling knuckle-slicer to a decent sous chef.