No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

20 April, 2010

Adventures in Cooking

I learned about mirin the hard way tonight.

Never having used mirin in my cooking, I googled it before I started cooking the recipe for salmon, soba noodles and miso dressing. Trusty Google told me it was Japanese rice wine commonly used in cooking. Perfect, had some of that in the cupboard. So, I added the mirin to the sauce pan and let it simmer while I got the fish grill and another gas burner going.

When the fish grill didn't light, I figured I was overloading the oven. Ever impatient and hungry, I tried again instead of backing off. Instantly the most piercing alarm I've ever heard went off. Flashbacks of my mom baking chocolate chip cookies came into my mind as I quickly fanned what I thought was the smoke detector on the kitchen ceiling. But, it didn't work. I fanned some more, turned off all the burners, opened doors...nothing.

Instead of abating, the front door monitor started yelling at me in Japanese and flashing a picture of water spigot and the characters ガス (gas). After about 4 minutes of incessant beeping, James finally climbed up and took the sensor off the base. The beeping stopped. I pushed all the buttons I could make out on the monitor and it finally stopped flashing impending doom at me.

Problem solved. Sat down to a yummy dinner.

Doorbell rings, Japanese man on the speaker, but no more video. I fumbled with the monitor and realized I somehow screwed up the buttons during my earlier debacle.

I've had Japanese men in security uniforms at our door in the past. I knew what to expect and thankfully I started my Japanese lessons yesterday, so I'm already fluent. Our conversation went something like this:

Jesse: Sumimasen! (excuse me)
Security: Did you set off an alarm you crazy gaijin? (paraphrased)
Jesse: Gomennasai (sorry)
Security: Ryori desu ka? (Are you cooking?)
Jesse: Hai. Ryori desu. (Yes. Cooking.)
Security: Mirin desu ka? (Mirin is it?)
Jesse: Hai...mirin desu. Ahhhhhhhhhhh, so desu ka? (Is that so?)
Security: New to this cooking game are you? (paraphrased)
Jesse: Hai, hai. Gomennasai. (Yes, yes, sorry.)
Security: Namae wa, nan desu ka? (What is your name?)
Jesse: Watashi wa, ジェシ desu. (This translates directly to: As for me, Jieshi it is.)
Security: Sayonara you silly girl (paraphrased again)
Jesse: Gomennasai!!!

My Japanese teacher will be so proud and it seems I won't be cooking with mirin again any time soon. James came up the stairs and asked me how the security guard knew I was cooking with mirin. I said, either it happens often, or it's the empty bottles in the doorway. Does anyone know about this? Does alcohol come off as a gas when it is cooked?

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