Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wow. Just Wow.

I should be hung over.

Considering the amount of beer, wine, and grappa I consumed last night, my head should be hurting, my stomach should be burning, and my gag reflex twitching whilst keeping down bile.

But I'm not. Because I think all that booze was buffered by amounts of food most Americans don't see until Thanksgiving. Or in Oprah's glove compartment.

At any rate, we ate. And ate. And ate.

We all met up at what's pretty much ground zero for our family gatherings in Osaka - Aunt Fusako's restaurant. There's a super-casual back room reserved for family gatherings. You take off your shoes, grab a piece of floor, and dig into the nabemono (hot pot) or whatnot on the low little tables as you slurp your beer. Traditional family stuff.

Naturally, there was sushi artfully made by Makoto. And quickly. So quick, that I could barely see what he was doing with his hands. Even with my fancy new photographic gear, good lighting, and everything, he was still a mysterious blur. But the quality wasn't lost in the speed. At all. Deliciously rich yellowtail. Crazy fresh tuna. Amazing amberjack. Good lord... this was a feast!

Then there was the hot pot, where a delicious broth bubbled with the freshest enoki mushrooms I've ever had, the most tender leeks, astoundingly delicious salmon, and the gorgeous white flesh of the ugly monkfish. When my mom informed everyone that I love ankimo (that's monkfish liver), everyone was shocked. Gai-jin aren't supposed to like that! They're supposed to revile organs. Especially seafood organs. My aunt was so surprised (and happy that I'm not a total roundeye devil) that she gave me a hunk of ankimo nearly the size of my fist. I was very honored. And I shared... some of it.

The real highlight, though, wasn't the meal. As fantastic as it was, it was completely unmatched by the company. Here we were, three generations of my mom's family. My mom, her sisters, my cousins... It was awesome. Oh, and there were my cousins' kids, who are among the cutest in the damn world. Wanna see?

THIS JUST IN: There must be some great genes in my family. As I was blogging this, my cousin Neema just IMed me with a video chat, with his son Parsa on his lap. I'm swimming in cute.

Anyway, it was a great evening. And even if we hadn't been eating piles of startlingly fresh seafood, had we not been tucked away in the awesome back room of a cool little restaurant, had we not been drinking to our hearts' content - it still would've ranked as one of my best days traveling. Ever.

Because as awesome as it is scaling mountains, jumping off bridges, diving - whatever - nothing warms the heart nearly as much as connecting with relatives you last saw when you were barely old enough to tie your own shoes... and somehow communicating with them despite a huge language disparity.

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