I Went For A Walk Without My Camera

When Isaac gave me advice on starting a blog, alongside posting everyday, taking good pictures and making people care was the warning never to go cameraless. Today, I committed the sin.

Only 20 feet from my apartment, I saw the full-grown rice fields and took my first mental picture. In my head, I juxtaposed the long yellow strands with the tiny green shoots cheekily poking out from the murky water only two months prior. Next, I watched as a small yellow butterfly circled around a group of pink carnations and I imagined it keeping still, just long enough for my invisible camera to capture.

And though I’ve never taken an actual panoramic, I spun around slowly, then a little faster downloading the green mountains, the traditional roofed houses and the many black power-lines playing house to the village’s entire bird population. I took it all in and I saved it, for myself, on the desktop of my heart, in a private folder.

A few more steps and surprise, surprise, I was greeted by my friend. He was waiting for me outside of his house. “You late,” he said. I laughed thinking, it’s a Saturday!  “Come come.” He took me to his garden. I watched as his 78 year old hands trembled cutting the vine of a perfectly round watermelon. “This this, number one,” he said. “Camera?” he asked. “Nai, not today,” I answered.

After calling his wife to join us in the garden, he washed the watermelon, scrubbing it with a brown sponge between his tanned and wrinkled fingers. I took a quick snap of this. Staring at the frozen moment I wished to hold hands with him. He reminded me of my own grandfather and the countless times we’d sat together where I played with his smooth fingers whilst he kissed my forehead.

Now the three of us stood around an old bench, beautiful amber wood, just screaming to be photographed as a sharp dangerous-looking square blade attached to a tiny wooden handle pierced through the green melon. Ah, don’t cut yourself I thought as I inwardly videoed the “big moment”. Red. It was so red. And fresh! So fresh that the skin cracked open by itself, begging to be eaten.

I was given the first slice. He and his wife watched in anticipation. Delicious? Delicious, I proclaimed. It was. It  was the sweetest I’d ever tasted.

There Is Nowhere Morning Does Not Go

Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have. (Lemony Snicket)

Turns out waking up early is even better for me than I originally thought. This morning was an adventure I’ll never forget. So I embarked for my usual 5.30am walk only to be stopped halfway by an ojichan (old citizen). He asked where I was from, what I was doing here etc and long story short, he took me to his garden where he showed me his eggplants, watermelons, broccoli, figs, persimmons and other fruits and vegetables before ripping out a big cabbage head for me to take home. Next, he introduced me to his wife who also gifted me fresh produce: capsicum, parsley and cucumber. Since it was still early by the time I got home, I whipped up a quick batch of blueberry muffins to return to the old couple as a thank you before heading to work. When I got there…well, I’m sure you can imagine their smiles and feel their warmth.
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Behind The Scenes

If you didn’t know, fruit is expensive in Japan. Like, 8-bucks-for-a-single-peach expensive. So, I may have spent my month’s grocery allowance already…And since I don’t get paid for this blog, unlike some other food-bloggers, I have had to alter my foodie-ventures. You might know (if you’re a regular follower) that I’ll be finishing up my contract in the Japanese countryside in less than 8 weeks… which means (note to self) I should be eating the things in my pantry instead of grocery shopping. So, I  raided my pantry and made  onigiri (rice balls). These specific ones are called sekihan 赤飯 which are usually white rice boiled together with red beans – though I used brown rice and too many beans (on purpose of course). They are a traditional Japanese dish and often served on special occasions throughout the year like birthdays, weddings and some holidays, such as Shichi-Go-San.

Further, I didn’t buy these flowers. I rode my bicycle at 5.30am, in the rain and picked these wild ones instead. There, I had the pleasure of receiving 3 vicious sand fly bites which have caused my ankles to become as large and round as my watermelon.

Health Update

I am, after 48 hours, finally craving food. And guess what I am craving? That’s right, a Persian breakfast! With, wait for it…SUIKA! Or in English, watermelon. Though I am missing basil and mint… Anyways, if you aren’t already aware of my watermelon obsession then please take a look at this, or this, or this.  And to all those kind and wonderful souls who have wished me well, I love you, I love you, I love you.

japanese watermelon

When I lived in Israel, I accidently ate a whole watermelon in one sitting and it wasn’t pretty. Fortunately, touch wood, that hasn’t happened here (yet) which is odd as Japanese watermelon is the most deliciously sweet thing I have ever tasted. Ever. Seriously. I am not exaggerating. You have to try it. I don’t know why its reputation isn’t right up there with Japanese sushi and ramen. It should be. It’s better.

PS the following photos were taken on three different occasions. Yep, I have a slight addiction.
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that time i went hiking with an 8kg watermelon and a concealed weapon in my backpack

On the last day of my wee holiday in the beautiful Bay of Plenty (situated in the North Island of NZ), I went hiking with an 8kg watermelon and a concealed weapon in my backpack. Yep, you read right. My cousin and I wrapped a very dangerous knife in two tea-towels (kids, don’t try this at home) and placed it in my backpack alongside a big round stripy watermelon. Why? 1.Addiction and 2.Because there truly is no other food one wishes to gulp after a long and sweaty hike. Seriously, no other.  I’m not going to lie, heaving an 8kg watermelon up a steep hill was not the most comfortable situation I’ve found myself in during my mere 22 years, yet every freakin’ sweaty step is totes worth it in the end (once you learn to disregard the sharp stomach pains eating too much watermelon can and most possibly will, induce that is)

After food and literature, my third favourite past-time are hikes. The feeling one receives after eventually (emphasis on eventually) reaching the top of a hill/mountain and as a reward, being greeted by ‘dat view tho’ is frankly incomparable. Except well, if you reach the top and get to smash your face into some sweet sweet melons (get your mind out of the gutter!).

Between the two of us, my cousin and I ate half a watermelon each. Minus two slices, which we generously (not really as two slices were truly zilch compared to the whole fruit) hand delivered to two tourists. So, if NZers get a reputations for being generous and self-less souls (as evident in former image), you know who to thank.

A Summery Watermelon Salad

I really like watermelon. Actually, that’s an understatement. I am infatuated with it. If it were legal, I’d marry one. A big round sweet delicious one. In fact, I remember buying a ridiculously massive watermelon in Haifa, Israel three years ago. The dark green ton of deliciousness only cost me ONE dollar (unbelievable, right!) but it was a bitch to carry home. Anyways, long story short, I loved it. I ate it ALL for lunch then I threw it ALL up for afternoon tea. Sorry, that escalated quickly. I apologise for taking things to a gross level.

Watermelon is one of the most hydrating summer foods. In fact, every bite is roughly 92% H2O! In addition, the antioxidant lycopene in watermelon gives our bodies strong UV-defense properties that work in tandem with our sunscreen to keep us sun-safe all summer. Watermelon is also a surprising source of iron – important in maintaining healthy red blood cell production which leads to healthy nails, luscious hair and clear and radiant skin.

Similar to watermelon, cucumber is also packed with water (95% to be exact). In addition, cucumber is my sweet mama’s number one beauty secret – super rich in silicon, cucumber is vital in boosting skin elasticity and moisture.

1 cup of watermelon, diced into 2cm cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
1 cup cucumber, diced into 2cm cubes
1/4 cup crumbled goats cheese (omit if vegan or dairy-free)
a bunch of fresh mint leaves
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp cold-pressed olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and nom nom!