Fugu, are you a pig?

A friend was wondering out loud on Facebook, why the kanji characters for fugu (pufferfish) are 河豚. She was pondering the use of 豚, the second character, which means "pig", but the first character 河 is a mystery too, since it means river - and the fugu that we know and eat today (or get all het up about how dangerous it is, depending on where you are from) is an ocean fish. The pufferfish that the Chinese used to eat centuries ago were found in large freshwater bodies of water such as the Yangtze River ....more

The Japanese Valentine's Day tradition of compartmentalized chocolate giving

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us. There's quite a difference between the way this holiday-that-isn't-really-a-holiday is celebrated in Japan vs. elsewhere ....more

ChefCuisine: top restaurant quality meals at home with a difference

While I am solidly behind the concept of cooking your own meals as much as possible, I do realize it's not possible to do that all the time for various reasons. Even in a household like ours, where both of us can cook to varying degrees, it's exhausting to do so every single day. Sure, you can go out to eat, but restaurant dining has its own issues too, ranging from parking to (in some countries) how much to tip to dealing with rude waitstaff or screaming kids at a neighboring table ....more

Chilled grilled eggplant soup for a hot summer's day

It's midsummer, and daytime temperatures are hovering in the mid to high 30s °C (or 95-100 °F) around these parts. Sure it's a dry heat, since it is in Provence, but it's still pretty hard to bear, especially since we don't have air conditioning. This means that it's really hard to even contemplate standing in front of a hot stove cooking things ....more

Cherry clafoutis with browned butter

We're just about at the end of the cherry season here in northern Provence. This was a pretty good year for cherries, since we were able to enjoy them from early May onwards. Sometimes they are so freshly picked that the little flowers are still on the stems ....more

New site design

And it's about time too! The site has been totally redone from the bones up. It should finally look and work like a mid-2015 site rather than a mid-2005 one! ...more

The site is going through some maintenance issues...

It’s going to look very strange for a bit, but we hope to have it back to normal shortly. Thank you for your patience! ...more

4 years

Hi there! If you have a couple of seconds: Go to the Yahoo! Japan home page, and type "3.11" (without the quotes) in the search box at the top of the page ....more

Weight loss bootcamps on TV, the U.S. vs. Japan

Weight loss shows on TV show cultural differences. read more ...more

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! read more ...more