I find that I am too passionate sometimes. Yes, passionate – as in, over eager, zealous, easily excited and provoked, impassioned. A work of art will send me plummeting into a rage of contemplation – and such things do exist. Profound mediation and search is NOT just a cerebral process any more. One of the pieces at the Mori Arts Center Museum featured a very physical manifestation of mental debate (Some Questions on the Nature of Your Existence, Ritu Sarin & Tenzing Sonam) – it was a very tangible rage of contemplation. And it was beautiful! Debate and knowledge SHOULD be that stimulating and provocative. I really don’t think you can just look at a piece of work and not have some sort of intelligible response to it. I realize certain things exist merely for aesthetic purposes – they are descriptive or narrative, and do not require much thought. Fine. But there are many more things that exist that do have an analytical purpose and intrinsic value just based on the knowledge and insight you can gain. I am raving, but you get it? I get excited and worked up because the pursuit of knowledge (All knowledge is worth having) brings me toward that fulfillment. But it transcends art! Every conversation you have, every new scene you encounter, every image you see – they should all be stimulating. Iran on the heels of the Tianamen anniversary brings me to tears. A babbling little baby in its mother’s arms brings up questions of how speech develops and how sound travels. Suddenly synapses fire, and I see connections between Stephen Hawking and the Dalai Lama.
I realize that I WANT, NEED, DEMAND a high amount of mental stimulation. Life is just so unsatisfactory and insipid otherwise. I ask for fulfillment, is that too much? Or is it enough that I am here in Tokyo in a luxurious apartment? No – I could be living on the floor of an orphanage in Southeast Asia, and my trip would be more fulfilling. I want stimulating conversations, incendiary literature, uncomfortable situations. I am seeking fulfillment, and I am determined to make it happen.
You think this is exhausting. You think my mental adventures are strange. All you want is to be comfortable in your habitual existence. And my spontaneity makes you uncomfortable. Well, have the joy of it, and may you enjoy living vicariously through my life. Ha.
From the Forevermark Precious Collection
With that said, my last 2 days HAVE actually been VERY fulfilling. I escaped the monotonous cycle of shopping and eating, and we were able to visit an amazing exhibit at the Mori Arts Center Museum in the Roppongi Hills Plaza. Again, no pictures, but we had a late dinner at the train station – a HOT (temperature and spice) Sundub meal. I think it is very similar to Korean spicy tofu – it is served with rice and pickled vegetables too. To place an order, you first have to select a base soup – chicken, beef, pork, etc. Then you get to choose the soup – miso or regular. Then the toppings – anything from eggs to bacon to cheese to shredded veggies – it is a really great way to personalize your meal.
In addition, I had my very first monjayaki and okonomiyaki experience in the Tsukishima district of Tokyo. What is it and what’s the difference? Okonomiyaki is a southern Japanese dish that is like a savory choose-your-own pancake that is prepared on a hot grill. There are several street carts around the city, but the best way to enjoy it is by doing it yourself.
According to my friend Addidesu, monjayaki is more a Tokyo-fied version of okonomiyaki, and it is much more gooey and runny. We ordered first ordered a kimchi and bacon monjayaki, and Addidesu expertly chopped all the contents before building a reservoir of all the food. Once the veggies began to cook down and the meat had seared, the liquid was placed inside the “food wall” and the cake set into a very gelatinous pseudo-cake. The salted meat and the veggies really melded together while being cooked on the grill. The residual liquid evaporates as it cooks, leaving behind pure flavor and goodness.
Our scallion okonomiyaki resembled an omelet, and was cooked like one too. It was doused with Asian mayonnaise (bleh) and a bit of okonomiyaki sauce, and it was absolutely delicious. Far better than anything off those street carts. I liked the okonomiyaki more as I appreciated the contrast in textures – the slight crunch in the veggies, the slight springiness of the dough.
Over stimulating conversation (Japanese modernism; patriarchal but NOT chivalrous society; fulfillment) and delicious food – now THAT is a fulfilling day. And I forgot to mention my affair with Pierre Hermé and a very sweet Cantonese exchange student, but that needs its own entry to do it justice 😉
Here’s a teaser… for you Colleen.
Seize the day!