House Warming Party

August 31, 2009

Well, the worst of the summer heat may soon be over in Kanagawa-ken (at least near the sea here on Miura peninsula where we live) but the cicadas are still out in force during the middle of the day. I had one visit me while I was hanging laundry, but he whisked off before I could get a picture of him. Now, we mostly find dead or half-dead ones on our porch and balcony–they went through a period of flinging themselves at our windows, which was nerve-shattering until I learned it wasn’t birds that were doing it.

We hosted a small party the other day in hopes of meeting some of the people Darrel works with, and also as something of a house-warming party. We’d originally planned a cook-out, but the weather is just too nasty for outdoor entertaining. Plus, we don’t have any outdoor seating arrangements. In fact, I’m not even sure people entertain in their backyards like we do in Japan. One, it’s very noisy for such small quarters (a lot more intrusive for the neighbors) and two, there’s little space in the yards for lingering and milling around. My observation is that most people entertain inside, or more likely, they choose to go to a watering hole or a restaurant for parties. The sakeba, or drinking spots, abound near train stations, and at times there seem to be more sakeba than people to fill them. Sakeba fulfill much of the same need as Irish and English pubs do, as well as cafes in France. They are a second living room, where you can come to relax and leisurely eat and drink while socializing with friends and neighbors. I’ve read that one of the quintessential points to understanding socializing in Japan is knowing when to invite friends and colleagues to these drinking holes.

However, I’m accustomed to receiving guests in my home, so we spent the entirety of Saturday cooking and preparing. I made Japanese-style potato salad, avocado club house sandwiches from one of my favorite Japanese cookbooks, cranberry spritzers with orange, and spicy mayo chicken kara-age. Okay, the kara-age was a store-bought impulse purchase of Darrel’s, but I’m darn proud of the spicy mayo, which is something my mother invented back in Tuscon on her quest to replicate spicy California rolls. It’s divine on a lot of things. There’s a lot of mayo in these dishes, but Japanese mayo has less cholesterol than most American brands, plus it is much less sweet and more eggy tasting. I used the popular “Kewpie” brand, which comes in a 1/2 calorie variety I rely heavily on. It’s occasionally available in American supermarkets. The Japanese are very fond of mayonnaise, and in fact it become something of a trend. People started calling themselves mayola which is short for mayo la–ba– which means “mayo lover.” This is similar to calling someone a “something-or-other-mania.” Mania here meaning “freak,” “maniac,” or “die-hard.” Some people even carry around mini bottles of mayo in their bags, which is referred to as my mayo or “personal mayo.” I personally find this bizarre, but suffice it to say, expressing enthusiasm for an individual passion seems to attain rare heights with some people. This seems similar to BBQ sauce freaks in America, one of whom I knew liked to put it on pasta.

The spread.

The spread.

But, no one showed up to our party. I was really shocked. Actually, two people did come after about three hours, but the food had gone very cold.


2 Responses to “House Warming Party”

  1. Mommy said

    I’m so sorry! Who handled the invitations? Darrel’s coworkers sure missed out on a beautiful spread.

  2. Darrel said

    I did, but we only invited a few people to begin with. I shall plan for more no-shows next time!

    This blog needs to have a ‘Darrel’s corner’.

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