My mother

Posted on Mar 16, 2009 in Hiroko's Blog

My Mother’s childhood in the 1920s and 1930s in Japan culinary world was surprizingly Western in style. My mother, Tokuko Shimbo, was born in 1927 in Takada City, Niigata Prefecture. Niigata Prefecture is located northeast of Tokyo, facing the Japan Sea. It is a city known to receive one of the heaviest annual snowfalls in the country. Her father, Ryuta Okada, was a pediatrician and became a good friend to a Canadian missionary family whose children came to see him as his patients. The church operated a Christian kindergarten that my mom attended. Her father, Ryuta, was appointed as the school doctor. My mom’s mother, Setsu found the Western way of thinking – among which was the respect for women’s rights – very appealing, and she devoted her time to volunteering at the church. Setsu brought back from the church to her home many new ideas along with delicious “exotic” Western recipes that excited and pleased all of her family. Until recently even I did not know that these Western dishes which my mother prepared frequently while I was growing up – beef tongue stew, coquille Saint Jackque, panko bread crumb coated fried fish, macaroni tossed with onion in sauteed in butter and milk, ground beef stuffed omelet, beef stew and rolled cabbage stuffed with meat – came from such a long way away.