Last week I joined my friend Viola for an evening of learning about Japanese food hosted by Cucimondo, an association that supports volunteer efforts to contact and integration between individuals and peoples. It was delicious, disorganized, and hilarious.
The presenters were a a woman from Osaka and her Roman-born daughter, who might be the coolest chick in Rome. There were several other people from Cucimondo to assist and supervise, including a dead ringer for Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Viola, 20 Roman housewives, three gay men, a black cat and I were seated in chairs around the presentation table. We had to bring our own plates and cutlery.
Mother and daughter recounted their story, explained a bit about Japanese food culture and presentation, and then showed us how to make some Japanese dishes. They invited several of the participants to help make them make rice balls – rinsing the hands in water, cupping the hands just so, wrapping them in seaweed paper.
Viola, who has a phobia about food hygiene, was apoplectic. The Roman housewives had to be told repeatedly to stop chatting. The gay men were clearly expecting sushi. The black cat just wanted salmon.
I was the only foodie in attendance, desperate to talk about umami and its implications for the future of flavored ketchup, a topic I’ve been obsessed with ever since I’d read an article about it in The New Yorker several years ago, but it wasn’t a hot topic with this crowd.
Then cold sake was served, and it was a party.
And now for your listening pleasure, a song! “Giapponese a Roma,” by Il Genio!