philosophy

Japanese Cooking 101: Final thoughts, or what was the point?

I’m still getting reactions to the recently completed Japanese Cooking 101 course (if you missed it, here’s the complete list of lessons.) While the reactions have been overwhelming positive, I’ve gotten a couple of negative comments too.

One I wanted to address in particular is the accusation, if you will, that the lessons do not represent that way most people cook in Japan anymore. continue reading...

Reader beware.

Something that has been bothering me for a while. continue reading...

Personal update

Hi everyone. I put up a post about my health situation over on my personal site. Please take a look if you’re interested.

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Setsuden article in The Japan Times, plus suzumi or 'keeping cool' the traditional way

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This month in the Japan Times, I talk about setsuden (cutting down on electricity consumption) and suzumi (keeping cool). continue reading...

Respecting traditions

Pondering a little about religious and cultural traditions, and food. continue reading...

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What inspires you to cook?

What inspires you to cook? continue reading...

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Crafts vs. cooking: different markets (or, would you pay for a downloadable recipe?)

We pay for single craft patterns. Why don’t we do the same for single recipes? continue reading...

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3 posts about Satoshi Kon

Pointing to something non-food on my personal site. continue reading...

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Stuck in a French hospital

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About how I ended up in a French hospital, and how it’s been. Some angst and pretty dodgy looking food pics follow. continue reading...

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Postcards from Kyoto - Surfaces, Keibunsha and conclusion

Tsubaki (camellia) 'fountain' at Honen-in, Kyoto

The final post in my Postcards from Kyoto series, with some reflections on what Kyoto stands for, plus more shopping and food. continue reading...

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I am only what I am. I hope it's enough.

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My niece Rena tucks into teuchi udon (handmade udon).

I am occasionally asked via email or Twitter or even in person, to post a recipe that is Asian but not Japanese. In most cases, I have to say that I have no idea how to make it. Well that wouldn’t be exactly true: I could look it up online or in cookbooks and replicate a recipe here. But then, so could you. So could anyone. continue reading...

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Real beef

Some real meat this time. continue reading...

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I'm moving! I'm moving! But where to go?

Let’s pretend that there are no tiresome restrictions like visas and such. If eating well were the only criteria, where in the world would you move to? continue reading...

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Looking Forward to 2009 with a Wish List Notebook

A bit of a look back at 2008, plus making a Wish List for 2009 and beyond. continue reading...

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5th Anniversary Giveway Day 4: Regrets, I've had a few

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For a few months in 2006, I changed the banner graphic of the site every month to reflect the season.

There are a couple of things that I wish I had done differently during the last five years as far as Just Hungry was concerned. If you are a newish food blogger, or any kind of blogger, perhaps this will help you avoid these mistakes.

(This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! The winner will be announced next week!) continue reading...

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5th Anniversary Giveway Day 3: The Meandering Path of Just Hungry

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The header graphic of the 2nd design of Just Hungry displayed one of these 4 illustrations at random.

As I wrote yesterday, when I started Just Hungry I had no plans at all about the theme of the site, other than it would be about food. I think that you could get away with that back then, when the number of actual food blogs was probably still in the low hundreds.

__( This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! continue reading...

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5th Anniversary Giveway Day 2, with some reminiscences

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The image that I used in my first page design banner. I still love it.

During this giveaway week, I thought I’d indulge myself by sharing some reminiscences about the past five years of Just Hungry. Today: Why I started the site.

__ This giveaway is now closed. Thank you for participating! continue reading...

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Oh noes, dashi is trendy now

In the past few years, the popularity of Japanese food has exploded, with sushi leading the way. You might think that as the owner of a blog that is mainly dedicated to Japanese cooking, I’d be ecstatic about that.

I am happy, sure. It’s gratifying to gradually see the cuisine of my birthplace being recognized as something special. But on the other hand, I’m more than a bit skeptical. I wonder if, in a few years, hipster ‘foodies’ are going to turn their noses up at Japanese cuisine. “That was so naughties” they might be saying sometime in 2015, as they tuck into the latest craze for - I don’t know what. continue reading...

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About Japanese ingredients and substitutions

[Updated to add Substitution section.]

I haven’t exactly counted it up, but of the thousands of comments left on Just Hungry, not to mention Just Bento, probably at least a quarter are questions about ingredients or ingredient substitutions. So I thought I might put down what my criteria are for what kind of ingredients I choose to feature in the recipes on either site, especially when it comes to Japanese recipes. [Update added on August 15th, 2008]: I’ve also added some suggested, and acceptable, substitutions. continue reading...

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Meat and the environment

Today is Green Day, and we’re being bombarded with Green Day Sales, reminders as to how Green this company or the other is, and so on. It’s a big topic nowadays.

I feel that the things that we can do as individuals is getting increasingly muddy. For a while it seemed like biofuels were a solution, but now the huge demand for plant-based fuels may be causing serious food shortages. Food miles and locavorism may not be as clear cut a solution either. Michael Pollan says we should start growing our own vegetables, but that’s not possible for a lot of people, for space or time reasons.

Is there something relatively easy we can do? Sort of. continue reading...

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New poll: Rising food prices and you

(Skip the rambling and go directly to the poll)

The news is quite disturbing these days. Soaring food prices, food riots in Haiti, rice hoarding by some exporters of rice. Do you worry about rising food prices?

We eat a lot of rice at our house as you might expect, so news like rice prices hitting an all-time high today are a bit disturbing. We’ve already seen bread getting more expensive. continue reading...

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Poll: Do you worry about rising food prices, and how to deal with the situation?

Yes I worry a lot.
43% (318 votes)
I worry a little, not much.
45% (332 votes)
I don't worry about it all.
11% (79 votes)
Other
0% (3 votes)
Don't know
1% (4 votes)
Total votes: 736
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Pondering the new Delia Smith, plus acceptable cooking shortcuts

While I was mostly lounging around for the past week, I did get to catch up on a lot of TV. One of the shows I’ve cleared from my DVR is the new one from Delia Smith on BBC Two. continue reading...

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New poll: Should there be more restaurant cuisine authenticity verifiers?

Here’s a new poll to chew over this Monday. The Japanese government has been ruffling some feathers in the restaurant world with their attempts to set up a program to certify the authenticity of ‘Japanese’ restaurants around the world (read about it here). Should more countries start such schemes, government-sponsored or not? Should a Spanish group be going around the world verifying if a paella is properly Spanish? Should the Germans inspect the quality of wurst? Or, what about the Americans - should they go around the world inspecting bagels? (You can get some mighty unusual bagels in Japan for instance, I can tell you.)

What do you think? Have your say! continue reading...

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Hold the tuna and the food guilt, please

Tuna with a side of mercury, and all that. continue reading...

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Going back to your culinary roots: does it make you healthier?

To my post about why Japanese people in Japan don’t get that fat, Kim left this terrific comment:

I’m not Japanese (I’m Korean). I was adopted and grew up in America. I didn’t have a weight problem growing up, my weight happened when I hit high school and beyond. When I was in college, I had a chance to go back to Korea for 3 months. I was just a little overweight, maybe around 10-15 pounds. While there, I ate everything in sight, but I also walked everywhere. I also ate more veggies, and more rice, and again, I walked everywhere…usually in atypical day I was walking close to 3-5 miles. When I came back to the states, my Mom automatically thought that I had been starving because I was so slim. Sure enough,1 month later I had gained back all my weight.

There was a big diet trend a little while back that spoke to that. It had people focusing on what their heritage is and then eating and being like the people from their heritage. Now whenever i feel the need to drop some weight, I heavily go back to my Korean roots and the weight just seems to come off. I usually have more energy and just feel more at peace. But it takes so much time, and that is a premium these days.

I must have missed that diet trend Kim mentioned somehow, but it resonates a lot with me. I do enjoy eating a wide variety of cuisines, but when I want to get back into balance and feel good physically and mentally, I always go back to Japanese cooking. I know that Japanese food is generally held to be quite healthy and things like that, but maybe there is more to that.

What do you think? Does going back to your own food heritage help you to feel better and healthier? continue reading...

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A new poll: Would you eat food from cloned animals?

The first poll about chickens (the original question, the actual poll, and the results summarized) was so interesting to me, that I’d like to make polls a semi-regular feature on Just Hungry. I think that polls and the answers to them on difficult issues can help qualify one’s thinking on the subject. So, here is another one for you about on the subject of the ethics of eating. The subject is cloned animals.

Yesterday the The U.S. government approved the sale of food from cloned animals. Here is the Food and Drug Administration’s report. The European Union issued a public call for consultation on the scientific issues regarding food derived from cloned animals. The draft opinion of the agency (link, PDF) is that such food is safe for human consumption.

How do you feel about this? Remember that food from cloned animals would include eggs, milk and milk products as well as meat. Please include your opinions in the comments to the poll too.

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The U.S. government has approved the sale of food from cloned animals and the EU seems to be headed that way - what will you do?

I'll buy and eat cloned meat and eggs and milk, no problem.
36% (92 votes)
I may try it, but I'm skeptical.
26% (67 votes)
No way will I buy cloned foods, ever.
34% (89 votes)
Other
4% (11 votes)
Total votes: 259
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The question of food ethics: What's your chicken policy?

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It may well be that 2008 is the year when questions of ethics and choice really come to the fore. In the UK, coincidentally or not three major TV programmes on the subject have been airing this week. As I mentioned earlier the BBC is airing a second season (series) of Kill It, Cook It, Eat It, a program about the slaughtering of animals for human consumption. On Channel 4, two heavyweights of the TV cooking world, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, are tackling the issue of battery raised chickens. In the U.S. Michael Pollan, author of the seminal The Omnivore’s Dilemma, has a new book out, In Defense Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (I haven’t read this yet). Here in Switzerland, the leading supermarket chain stopped selling traditionally raised fois gras, at least in the German speaking parts of the country.

I don’t really have hard-and-fast rules on food. I’m not a diehard locavore, I’m not a ethically-motivated vegan, I buy conventionally farmed produce as well as organic. One food I do have a firm line on is chicken. Ever since I found out in what conditions factory farmed chickens are raised, I have only bought organically raised ‘happy’ chickens and eggs, as I wrote about two years ago. I think that chicken is a sort of bottom line type of food. A lot of people nowadays may be avoiding red meat and pork (is pork a red or white meat? I’m never sure), but they do eat chicken. And even if you don’t eat chicken, you may eat eggs.

So, I’m curious. What are your personal policies when it comes to chicken? I’ ve put up a poll about it - please vote, and tell me your opinion in the comments there.

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Do you think about the carbon footprint of your holiday feasts?

As I’ve mentioned her before several times, I’m not a diehard locavore. But I do try to keep an eye on how far my food has travelled to get to me. Admittedly, many of my seasonings and such have travelled a long way, because I need my Japanese food and I’m here in the middle of Europe. For fresh produce and meats and things like that I do try to buy things that haven’t travelled too far as much as I can. I think I’ve fairly typical in that respect these days. continue reading...

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The pickled leeks of human kindness

I’ve been following a certain story in the UK with interest. A rich old lady died recently there, and in her will, she left her £10 million estate to the owners of her favorite Chinese restaurant. The family (actually her nieces and nephews) contested the will, as you might expect. On Friday, the High Court upheld the will. continue reading...

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Thank you for sharing your wonderful food memories!

First of all, thank you so much to all of you who shared your food memories for our 4th Anniversary event. You made us laugh out loud, you made us chuckle, and you brought tears to our eyes. If we could we would have given the prize to everyone! But we only have one book in our budget…so, after a weekend of arguing back and forth, we finally selected one jewel out of a whole boxful of treasures: Mitch’s entry, I Ate Love. continue reading...

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Do you have cook's hands?

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At the moment I am reading a book called The Kitchen. It’s been reissued with another book by the same author, Nicolas Freeling, as The Kitchen and The Cook, both of which were written in the post-World War II period. I’m reading it as slowly as I can, because it is a book to savor.

One of the early passages in The Kitchen caught my eye, where the author describes the hands of a cook. continue reading...

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Eating local in winter - followup

Forgive me for neglecting Just Hungry a bit this week - I’ve been spending all of my free waking time in Knightsbridge. I did want to follow up on the thoughtful comments left on my post about eating local in winter, in areas without 4-season growing conditions. Perhaps because I’ve been immersed in the 14th century has helped, but I’m increasingly intrigued by the idea of trying to experience how it would have been like to survive the winter in an age when fresh foods were not shipped in from far parts.

So I am going to try it out for at least a week in a few weeks - I think the end of January/beginning of February would be a good time. I don’t think I will go back as far as the Middle Ages, but something prior to the 19th century anyway - prior to fast trading ships as well as the advent of refrigeration. (I’m not sure if I will aim for pre-canning days as well). I’m also a bit undecided as to if I’ll try to emulate how it would have been in Switzerland, or something more generic, as well as what class in society I’d put myself (since rich people would have eaten a lot better then poor people, of course). When I’ve done more research into this I’ll post what I’m going to do.

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Should vegetarian restaurants only be reviewed by vegetarians?

The Guardian, one of Britain’s finest newspapers, recently installed several blogs to which their staff writers contribute, including a food blog. Last week one of their restaurant reviewers, Jay Rayner, wrote a negative review of a well known London vegetarian restaurant - which upset quite a lot of vegetarian readers. He defended his review, and several commenters bit back. One opinion expressed was that, since the critic is not a vegetarian himself, that he did not have the palate to judge vegetarian food, and that only committed vegetarian or vegans should be reviewing vegetarian restaurants.

That’s an interesting point of view. While I doubt that main stream media outlets instituting such food-specific critics and such, in the wide world of blogs it is theoretically possible - so someone might choose to only trust restaurant reviews from a vegetarian blogger. Is it plausible though? Is an omnivore disqualified from judging what’s good vegetarian food because his or her tastebuds are tainted by a fondness for meat? Should vegetarian food only appeal to non-meat eaters?

As someone who has gradually increased the percentage of vegetable based food in my diet in the last few years, but is not a vegetarian, I’m really curious about this. I do like the taste of meat. but I love the taste of fresh vegetables too. If I gave up meat products totally though, would my palate change that much, so that I enter a magical realm which is reserved only for vegetarians? Will meat become totally inedible? I’m a bit skeptical about this, since so many vegetarians seem to at least occasionally crave a ‘meaty’ taste.

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Mac and cheese from a box? Not even with cute bunnies

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Rebecca Blood has a great post summing up the recent minor brouhaha about a popular ‘quality’ mac and cheese brand that originated with article in Salon magazine, vs. the standard of the genre that comes in a blue box. Rebecca focuses on the actions of the CEO, specifically his comments on a post on megnut, which are funny in the way he assumes that people will just take his marketspeak at face value. continue reading...

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Eat Food/Not too much/Mostly Plants in action

Anyone who has any interest in food, nutrition, where our food comes from, and most importantly, how to eat at all, should read the massive (12 pages) article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times, Unhappy Meals. continue reading...

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Final weight loss thoughts: what I'm doing

To wrap up my week long series on weight loss, these are the things that I'm doing, and plan to continue doing, to achieve my goals - as well as some things I am not doing.

  • Tell everyone

    These weight loss posts are part of my plan: I'm telling everyone, friends, family, and even you out there in the anonymous interweb, what I'm doing. In the past I've tried losing weight in secret, and it just does not work because if I give up no one knows either. continue reading...

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Weight loss and eating out

Continuing my week of weight loss related posts, this time it's about eating out.

When I lived in New York, about 80% of my meals came from outside - restaurants, fast-food places and takeout. Coupled with that and 80-100 hour work weeks, I basically ran myself into the ground. Nowadays I don't eat out nearly as much. This has a lot to do with a change in lifestyle of course, but it I also consciously made the decision to try to cook for myself as much as possible. continue reading...

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Reconciling being a 'gourmet' and trying to lose weight

Continuing my week of posts about weight loss, some reflections on how to go about losing weight but still retaining my interest (or..obsession even) in food.

There was an interesting article recently to which I linked in my daily links, about a woman who went on a diet, and a different world. continue reading...

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Looking back at 2006

At the tail end of 2005, I set myself a list of food related things I wanted to accomplish. I didn't get to do all of these things but nevertheless, it was a very good year. continue reading...

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Is it possible to have bad food in France? Of course it is.

I think I'm guilty of waxing too lyrical about the food in France sometimes, and I'm certainly not alone in that. If you believe some people (many of whom have a vested interest in upholding the myth) you may think that French people eat delicious, fresh, well-prepared gourmet food and heavenly pastries all the time. That's just not true, of course. I'm just back from a two week stay in Provence, and while most of the food was wonderful as usual, there were some definite low lights. continue reading...

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75% vegetarian: meat is just a side dish

After reading my post yesterday about, among other things, the offal challenge on Top Chef, someone emailed me expressing surprise that I was not a vegetarian. I have been asked before by readers of this blog whether I was a vegetarian. I'm not, but let me qualify that. continue reading...

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Truly hungry

Today, October 16th, is World Food Day, a day designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations since 1945 as a day for promoting awareness of issues related to hunger, agriculture and food production.

While much of the time this site, like most food blogs, talk about indulging personal hunger and food cravings, there's a lot to think about on this subject these days, much of it rather sobering. continue reading...

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Expat food bloggers of the world, unite

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While going through the entries for Food Destinations #2, I was struck by the number of people who are expatriates. Alanna Kellogg wrote about this briefly on BlogHer a while back too. I am myself an expat, even several times over: born in Japan, American citizen, lived for some time in England, living in Switzerland now, but who knows where I’ll be in 5, 10 years?

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Some thoughts on food and photographs, and food photography

The Observer Food Monthly, one of the best food-related publications available online, recently held a food photography competition. The results have been posted, and all the winning and runner-up photos are terrific. The winner of the "Food Glorious Food" category, a very humorous arrangement of some jelly babies, made me laugh out loud, but the one that struck me the most is the overall winner, a beautiful black and white photo by Ikuko Tsuchiya titled "The Widow in her kitchen". continue reading...

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More about soy, manufactured food, and food trends

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Just in case you missed it, this article about soy that plume linked to in the comments to the previous entry about the anti-soy article in the Guardian is excellent.

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A problematic report on the 'dangers' of soy

There was a report in yesterday's Guardian about the supposed dangers of soy products. I am rather dubious about the claims, simply because some of the 'facts' stated about the use of soy beans in Asian cuisine, or Japanese cuisine in particular, are just plain wrong. The implication made in the article is that all soy products are fermented for a long time in Japanese cuisines, but this is simply not true. Only miso and soy sauce and like products - which are only consumed in very small quantities, since they are quite salty - fit that description. continue reading...

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The real taste of food

I found this New York Times article article about the "bad rap" of high fructose corn syrup, aka HFCS, very interesting. Before I proceed though, here are two other opinions you may want to read: continue reading...

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The choices we make

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Some thoughts on food blogging

The latest brouhaha to hit the world of food blogs is this article in Food and Wine Magazine in which Pete Wells criticizes what he calls "cheese-sandwich meanderings". While it's easy to dismiss the entire article, which is not the best example of journalism to ever exist, I think there are some things to be learned from his off-hand comments about food blogs.

My comments here are, of course, my opinion only, and my focus is on personal food blogs rather than food blog aggregators and the like. continue reading...

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Recipes and copyright - followup

Some very thoughtful responses were left to my previous post, about recipes and copyright. Rather than trying to squeeze all my responses in a comment, here is a folow-up:

Rachel, who was quoted in the Washington Post article, says: continue reading...

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Recipes and copyright

The Washington Post has an interesting article titled Can a Recipe Be Stolen?. It addresses the question of copyright and recipes. Can recipes be copyrighted? If you take an existed recipe, and change around a couple of ingredients, does it make it your own? How much change is enough? continue reading...

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I'm just being very me

I Was Just Really Very Hungry got a mention in the L.A. Times (registration required), alongside such illustrious company such as two of my favorite food blogs, The Accidental Hedonist and SliceNY. continue reading...

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What do (food) bloggers want for 2006?

Inspired by this Zagats Survey article about what cooking pros want to see more or less of, in 2006, I would like to close out the old year and kickstart the new, by starting this meme or sorts for food or any other bloggers. The questions: continue reading...

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Reading: Hungry Planet

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Take care of your tummy

Well it has been a while since my last post... I have just been occupied with other things (trying to catch up with work, reading, taking care of family, enjoying the summer, etc etc.)

It's not that I haven't been eating of course. That is one thing about having a food blog: you rarely run out of things to talk about. That is of course, unless you get too sick to enjoy eating. continue reading...

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Excess and fixations

My favorite television program at the moment is The Amazing Race. In case you have never watched this U.S. program, it's a reality/adventure show where 11 teams of 2 (the combinations vary from married or dating couples to parent and child, roommates, best friends, and so on) race around the world and try to end up being the first at each leg's destination. The final winner wins $1 million. It's really a fun show that even many reality genre haters like. continue reading...

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Cultural heritage in your tummy

Most of the time I think we just go along without thinking much about such big themes as Our Cultural Heritage. But these days I've been contemplating more and more on this. One reason for this has been the movie Lost in Translation. For various reasons, this movie has brought up a lot of debate and thinking about what it is to be Japanese. (Some of the conversations about the movie are on my other blog.) continue reading...

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Does food make you feel sexy?

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It hasn't been a good cooking week for me, since I've been very busy. Saturday is my birthday though, and we have been wondering whether or not to go out for dinner, or to cook something (well, for Max to cook something) at home. continue reading...

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maki Just Hungry is a site about food. There are lots of recipes and much more. You may want to read about Just Hungry, or contact the site owner, Makiko Itoh. To dive in real deep, try the site map.

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