I don’t know if its the heat, or being away for over four months, or seeing all the posts on social media about everyone’s beach trips, but I’m feeling the homesickness this month.
The initial shock has worn off by now about being here, and now that I’m more or less settled, it’s really starting to hit me: I’m still here, but everyone I know and love is there, back home.
What to do, what to do…
My friends and family have been absolutely wonderful about scheduling weekly/monthly video calls and just seeing their faces brightens my day more than they realize. My favorite parts of the conversations are after we do all the major catching up on significant events, and then we start just talking nonsense. How was breakfast, how are the pets doing, what are the parents up to these days, have you tried a new brand of potato chip/cereal/shampoo at Target, etc. All those boring little everyday things are what I miss (especially Target, I reallllly miss aimlessly walking around Target.)
But, above all else what is the major thing that always brings us back home, no matter how far we’ve gone?
So what did I do to stave off some of the homesickness? I cooked an absolutely delicious dinner that had nothing to do with Asian flavors. And it hit the spot.
Someone at work brought in a bag of excess veggies from their garden with a note on it that said, “help yourself”. You don’t have to tell me twice. I grabbed a handful of cherry tomatoes, a tiny baby eggplant, and a mysterious bag of leafy greens which turned out to be fresh basil. Score! From my cupboards I added some pasta, carrots, onion, and lots and lots and lots of garlic. (Because everyone knows that when a recipe says one clove, they really mean at least 2 or 3… thats just common knowledge).
The resulting mess was a big bowl of sautéed fresh veggies over a pile of pasta all covered in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pure heaven!! It felt like it was a dish my Dad and I would’ve made on a summer night with whatever he picked from the garden that day. No recipe, no idea what it was going to taste like, but you couldn’t go wrong with the ingredients. But of course since I’m still in Japan, I decided to eat it with chopsticks (which detracted a little from the Italian vibe I was going for, but the taste is what mattered the most.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy Japanese flavors, but having soy sauce, or miso flavored foods everyday gets old some nights. I’ve begun buying some different Chinese and Korean sauces to expand my pantry collection and my palette has been enjoying the change.
Being here has definitely changed my tastebuds, for the better I think. Some of my go to ingredients of back home aren’t available here (or are wildly overpriced thanks to them being imports), so I’ve had to readjust and adapt. It’s been a fun learning process though, trying new things and discovering new flavors while still being able to recreate the tastes of home.
Same speaking of being homesick, I’m currently holed up in a hostel in Shinjuku at the moment, which yes, is even further away. I have a brave friend who made the journey to Japan to spend this week with me, and we’re taking on Tokyo! (One of my favorite cities of all time) As much as I enjoy being here with the friends I’ve made, it truly is nice seeing a familiar face. More to come on our adventures later!