(PICTURE: Dinner at Masumi's parents house. Yup, I'm wearing another cardigan.)
After getting the invite to Masumi's parents' house, I asked what I could bring. I offered to bring sake but was told they had plenty. Instead, I said I would make nikujaga. You should be asking yourself, "What is Nikujaga? And how does Ben know how to make this dish?" Nikujaga translates to "meat and potato" soup but everyone here calls it "Mother's Taste" soup. Apparently every mom in the country makes their own special version of this soup. One of my students even told me that a woman is only a good wife is she can make good nikujaga.
A few weeks ago I went to my favorite eel restaurant and was given some amazing nikujaga by the wife of the chef (I was the only person in the restaurant and she was cooking dinner for her family). I fell in love with the soup and asked Masumi how to make it. Masumi took me to the supermarket and showed me all of the ingredients to buy to make her mother's version. She gave me verbal instructions on how to cook it and since then I've been eating nikujaga two times a week. Now if you're following this blog entry you should be saying to yourself, "You offered to bring Masumi's mother's recipe soup to Masumi's mother's house?" Yup, that's exactly what I did.
When I had originally offered to bring my nikujaga I was feeling extremely confident. Frankly, my nikujaga is delicious. However, as soon as we showed up at Masumi's parents house, I started to get nervous. Then to make matters worse, I realized I FORGOT AN INGREDIENT!! That's the bad news. The good news is that everyone truly seemed to like my nikujaga. Now that said, my nikujaga was clearly the worst dish made that night! Masumi's mom prepared about 10 different things for me to try. She told me that she was only making special dishes that a person couldn't buy at a restaurant. Like I said then, "Nothing beats home cooking."
The night before I was completely stuffed and thought that there was no way I could eat as much again any time soon. Well, I was wrong. Masumi's mom fed me and fed me and fed me some more. For the first time that I can remember, I had to actually turn down food at the end of the night when she offered to give me another bowl of a special rice she had prepared. As the title of the last two blogs makes pretty clear, this was the greatest weekend of eating ever!