Never, Nunca, (副)決して; いまだに; 全く

Never is a word for young people. The word “never” is ridiculous and useless as one gets older. Anyone who uses the word in an absolute way, non-related to anything life-threatening, has consigned themselves to a life of inflexibility, restrictions and a certain smallness.

When I was younger, there were many things I swore I’d never do. Why? Because I had never done those things before, never tried them, and thus my list of nevers were easy to dismiss. Things I’d said I’d never do (in no particular order): eat raw fish, smoke, move to Asia, live in a shared house (again), have a one-night stand, wear pearls, tell people anything private about myself, date a guy who wears suits to work. The list of my nevers could’ve gone on and on (“’til the break of dawn”), as they changed with the years. I could’ve choked on my nevers.

One example: When I was a vegetarian, I despised pork more than any other meat. Why? 1) Because I think it’s a trend to hate pork 2) I had an extremely brief “I think I’m a Rasta” phase in 1999 3) Because I didn’t know then that my mind and will would be ever-evolving, flexible, and wholly subject to my desires.

Flash forward: A few days ago, B and I went to Hatos Bar in Naka-Meguro. B told me that, “Hatos is Southern Americana; an indulgent haven for pork lovers.” Hatos Bar seats only about fourteen people inside and four at an outside table. The first time I went with LD, as I’d reported in a previous post, we were offered a table outside. (It was freezing that day, so that was a no go). Paintings and other artwork cover Hatos’s walls, and its tables, chairs and bar area all have a rustic feel. The menus are slabs of board with food on one side and drinks on the other; the choices are few: pork belly, pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, mac and cheese, chili, french fries, chili fries, imported beers and other beverages. There are no greens on the menu, nothing that could be considered remotely healthy. (Ironically, enjoying a pork feast with no guilt is very “healthy” for me).

Over the weekend, we walked into the small space that smelled like slow-cooked ribs, family barbecues, and childhood summers. Unfortunately, when we tried to order the ribs, they were sold out; so, we ordered and shared everything else on the food side of the menu, except the chili. The pork belly (the first I’ve ever tried) was rubbed with spices, dribbled in bbq sauce, and served with a spicy potato salad.  (To think, I said I’d never…).

Here I sit in Asia, on a warm day, with many others who’re enjoying this blast of sunshine, on an outside step overlooking the water, reflecting on my pork never and so many nevers that came before. Nevers I need to explore. What else have I missed out on?




Letter from Tokyo: “Forget About the Worries On Your Mind, You Can Leave Them All Behind”

Dear Friends,

The last few days have been filled with the essentials: good food, better company and fun. Let’s take a look at the days in review:

Thursday: It started as a quiet day with me sitting around twiddling my thumbs. Then it hit me, “I have the house to myself!” I took advantage of my solitude and started youtubing like crazy. The singfest started with Diana Ross’s “The Boss,” which of course me led me straight to her 1979 Caesar Palace show. I watched all seventeen clips (some songs on ridiculous repeat– ten or more times). I’ve learned many things from my devotion to Diana Ross and her Caesar Palace tutorial: I can’t turn emotion on and off, love (alone) is the boss, extreme passion for a song can overcome a lack of dancing skills.

Can we watch the most glamorous, amazing, sexy woman to ever grace a stage for a moment please (and for a moment, I mean five minutes and eight seconds)? “Who’s the boss, who’s the boss?” Love and Miss Ross!

Diana at 3:23: “Get up here and dance with me girl!”

Thursday night: I’ve fallen in and out of love many times, with many things and many people, but I’ve never felt love like this. Let me tell you about my newest, most passionate, intense love. It started on Tuesday when I was feeling a bit under the weather and decided to get soup at a corner restaurant in my neighborhood. Right beside the beef and mushroom soup was an interesting looking broth with perfectly golden meat swimming in it. I scooped some of that “soup” too. When I took it home, my housemate RT told me that the dish was a very popular pork dish that takes four hours to prepare. Friends, I wasn’t a big fan of pork. I thought pork (excluding bacon) was overrated. Friends, I’ve been a damn fool. Since putting that divine pork in my mouth, I’ve been back to the corner shop three times! One day, I bought enough pork that I’d have enough for breakfast the next morning. My god the pork is good! So, the other night, I asked RT to wed me to the pork; I wanted the pork dish to know that I was not only helplessly in love, but would forever be faithful. He actually started to do it, but then started to think it was crazy and stopped mid-ceremony. Now, I ask you, what could ever be crazy about being really in love?

* Porkie without the gravy.

For Porkie:

Friday: As you all know, my days off have been little more than food and drink fests (actually, the name of this post should’ve been “Food and Drink Fest”).  So, when my co-worker B suggested that Friday be spent at an architecture exhibit, and checking out Tokyo entire from the observatory deck in the Tokyo Municipal Building, I jumped on the idea with real enthusiasm. Six weeks in and I’ve seen only a few neighborhoods in Tokyo; so, I put my gray walking boots on and got ready to sightsee, to fill my eyes with beauty, to observe different things. All of those things were accomplished, but not at an exhibit that we never made it to, but in a restaurant. The problem (which really wasn’t a problem at all) was that we started with lunch, and stayed with lunch for quite a while. B introduced me to Salvatore Cuomo, a restaurant in Shinjuku, where the buffet, for 1500 yen, is all you can eat until 3p.m. Are you kidding me?! It’s an amazing deal, especially in a city where one sushi lunch is easily 1500 yen and won’t leave you anywhere near full. A pizza, outside of lunch hours, at Salvatore Cuomo is 1800 yen, so we lined up for the buffet of pizza, pasta, seafood, salad, desserts (brownies, profiteroles, and cake), again and again. We washed the sins of our gluttony away with lightly sweetened peach iced tea, and started on the second and third rounds.

* Plate 1: pizza, squid, spaghett in wine sauce, salad and french fries.

* Plate 2- Keeping it simple: pizza with olives, white pizza, sweet potatoes, and french fries.

* Pizza with tiny fish… look closely, you can see the eyes. Yum!

 *Thinking more food would get in the way of dessert, we decided it was time to get the sugar in:

When I commented that I hadn’t eaten a meal that wasn’t memorable and superb the entire time that I’ve been in Tokyo, B informed me that Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, and almost more than twice than second place. So believable.

After lunch, we headed to Tokyo Municipal Building’s observatory. Sadly, Friday in Tokyo was gray and hazy, but it was cool to take the ear-popping ride up to the top and see Tokyo spread at my feet. B said it best, when he uttered that we had “the God view.”

* Shinjuku captured by B.

Sadly, the sun has been going down earlier and earlier, but we tried to make it to the Imperial Palace and take some pictures of the Imperial garden. It wasn’t to be; when we exited the train, the sun had already set at 4:50p.m. My camera doesn’t handle night-time pictures very well, and the only photo I got at the palace was a lonely swan.

So, we left the Imperial Palace and took our snap happy selves to Ginza.

* B looking in wonder and a bit of awe at the building in front of us. He’s an architect, so he’d often stop and ask, “What does this building make you feel?” I’m not sure what buildings make me feel, but I sure as heck know how Porkie (my love pork) makes me feel…

*… like dancing!

Friends, I’m going to stop here, because I don’t want to admit to you that we went to Muji and had pepper chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, and chestnut cookies; that would just seem truly gluttonous, and I’d never want to come across that way. This post is long, so Saturday (fantastic Saturday) will be in another post.




* Come join the fun, this ain’t no time to be staying home, ooh there’s too much going on; tonight is gonna be a night like you’ve never known, we’re gonna have a good time the whole night long!

* I love El! Even more than I now love Porkie… He had the perfect blend of masculinity, eyeliner and falsetto (not many men can manage this)… though, more men should try.