Home Ec


Mr. Yoshita, an elderly, high-level student, has made his own wine. He doesn’t remember when he did this or really much about the process at all. He remembers that he bought grapes and that he put them in a bottle. He vaguely remembers that he left the bottle alone for a long time … and then there was wine. He doesn’t remember if it was good or bad.

Nobu, a good-looking 40-something chemist with biceps as big as his head, likes to make ice cream. It’s easy, he says. You don’t even need an ice cream maker – just one egg, some fresh cream, sugar, a whisk and four bowls. First, you separate the egg – the yolk goes in one bowl; the albumen in the other. Add sugar to these bowls and whisk up their contents, allowing plenty of air to infiltrate. Follow the same sugar-and-whisk procedure for the cream in its own bowl. Finally, combine the contents of all three bowls into the remaining bowl. Freeze for about 4 hours. Nobu says it is “very delicious” but cannot be done with cream from the supermarket; truly fresh high-quality cream is necessary. Nobu’s solution is to swipe such cream from his lab. Some people steal pens, some steal blank disks. Nobu steals cream.

Yoko always sleeps with a towel around her neck. She says that the Japanese believe that a cold neck equals a sick body. Yoko only gets sick about once a year.

Sumiko washes her hands and gargles with plain water each time she gets home. She hasn’t been sick in 10 years.

I’m wide-eyed and eager to hear more, particularly about the ice cream. Were it not for the necessity of using only fresh lab-stolen cream I’d certainly have tried my own hand at creating a bowl. The only mildly cool home treatment I employ is using vinegar to remove stains or balled up foil to remove rust on my stove’s burner. I learned the first trick from my days transcribing episodes of DIY Network shows for Closed Captioning and the second from Sean, who learned it from someone at his dojo. They both sort of work.

I suppose I shouldn’t feel too bad at my lack of home economic prowess. After all, my students are students of English; it’s possible I lost something in the translation.

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