So a few weeks ago I got into a conversation with JK Show intern Ben Hamamoto on a subject close to both our hearts: soy sauce -- or, as my Japanese-American wife, Sara, calls it, "shoyu."
Generally, my wife's cultural upbringing and my own Jewish-American one have proved to mesh quite comfortably -- with the singular exception of my shoyu habits. You see, Sara has always taken it as gospel that you do not put shoyu on your rice (an opinion as fiercely held as my late stepmother's irrational hatred of the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team, though one more relevant to my daily life). By all means add it to your salmon, she avers, but the rice is to remain pristine, shoyu-free.
But I like my rice with shoyu. Lots of shoyu, actually. And while I pour it on my rice, Sara looks at me with ... is "disgust" too strong a word? No, it is not too strong a word.
So I got quite excited when it somehow came up that Ben -- also a lover of shoyu'ed rice -- gets the same attitude from his Japanese-American mom. Neither of us knows why this is considered so horrible. And that would be the end of it -- except that Ben, with the impulsive can-do spirit of an American youth, has begun to research this issue, asking around among both Japanese and Japanese-American family members and acquaintances. His preliminary findings seem to indicate that, while the rice/shoyu dichotomy is strictly enforced among Japanese-Americans, apparently this is not an issue in Japan itself. Which is not to say that in Japan people douse their rice with shoyu; it's just to say that (apparently) it's not an issue there.
Does anyone have any pertinent data to report on this divisive matter? I'd be grateful for any further insights. ...
By the way, Ben kindly brought in his own home-made Rice Krispy Treats to the show's taping last Friday. And no, neither of us even thought of adding shoyu to them. ...
12 comments September 19th, 2005