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| Travel | 8 Things To Taste In Okinawa

27.7.16

| Travel | 8 Things To Taste In Okinawa


In Okinawa, just like everywhere else in Japan, regional food and drink is diverse and has a great sense of pride attached to it. I am sure that most of the inhabited Islands (there are over 100), have tantalising local specialities just waiting to be tried. However, for the first time visitor, here are some tasty treats to start you on your Okinawan food adventure:





Souki Soba
Souki soba is basically Okinawa style ramen and not at all like the more commonly known buckwheat 'soba'. Salty broth, wriggly noodles, topped with boneless pork ribs and often accompanied with a few slices of goya (see below), pickled ginger and a chilli pepper condiment that is quite lethal if added with a heavy hand.




Goya Champuru
We are quite certain that if you asked a group of Japanese people what Okinawa food is, they would either mention souki soba or goya champuru! Goya is not commonly seen in UK, unless you frequent Asian supermarkets, and here it is referred to as bitter gourd or bitter melon. Bitter it is and apparently very good for you. Goya Champuru is basically Okinawan stir-fry. I am not keen on it. Hiro Loves it. I eat in when I am in Okinawa because I feel I should.




Rafute
It's funny to me how people assume that Okinawans, known for their longevity, only eat fish. Yet, from my personal observations and experience, I don't think I've seen so much pork on the menu in any other place. Rafute is delicious. Rafute is slow cooked braised belly pork, it melts in the mouth and is just so flavoursome. (If you like butakakuni - then chances are, you will like this Okinawan version). 



Beniimo anything
The purple sweet potatoes that grow in Okinawa are delectable and unforgettably good. They have a vanilla note that lends itself well when the potatoes are used in sweet dishes. The souvenir shops have piles of beniimo tarts, kitkats, cakes and mochi. I like everything made with beniimo especially ice cream!



Umibudou
This is a variety of seaweed that only grows in Okinawa and Philippines. Literally translated as 'sea grapes' but is also referred to as green caviar. It can be found as tempura, in soups and with sushi. I like it on its own with vinegar and soy sauce or in a seaweed salad.





Awamori
It is said that Awamori is Japan's oldest distilled drink. I've been told that exports to mainland Japan are produced at a lower alcohol level but locally, it is typically consumed at 30-40% alcohol! Awamori is served with water and loads of ice but I've drunk it on the rocks (can't remember much after though).



Habushu
We haven't tried this. Let us know if you have please?


Ebi

If you like prawns, you will enjoy the grilled juicy gigantic ones that you can find in Okinawa. They are especially delicious as a snack along with a pint of ice cold Orion beer.

Notice the absence of fish on our little list? We have this theory, based on years of filling our bellies with fish and seafood across the world, and that is - the best fish comes from cold waters and the best prawns from warmer waters. While the fish in Okinawa cannot compare with what is available in less tropical parts of Japan, their prawns, especially those from Kumejima, are top notch.

Hiro proposed while we were on a tiny island in Okinawa (population of about 700). We met a group of Muslim guys from Bradford at dinner in one of very few restaurants on the Island. They were like...."Um Okinawa.....no one told us that everyone eats so much pork here!". We had to laugh. I wonder how they are doing! They visited Okinawa because they loved Mr Miyagi. Mr Miyagi is a don dada!
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25.7.16

| Magic Mundane | A'door'ed



I'll be honest. The doors in London have never really bowled me over. Paris is amazing. Stone Town in Zanzibar is spectacular. But, London is just hmmmmm. 

Recently, I've had a change of heart. London's doors are as varied as its citizens. They are often grubby and old, a patchwork of paint repair jobs, and I rather a-door that!

















Isn't it interesting how doors can be just as welcoming as they are unwelcoming? In the same way as they can symbolise safety, they can also be symbolic of imprisonment. They can pique curiosity and evoke a sense of dread in equal measure. 

It's even more interesting to me that these sentiments are echoed the world over. I suppose the entrance to our homes in particular is very important and this is a human concept more than a cultural one? 

Doors protect us from the outside world. When we come home and close the doors, we step into the little worlds that we have created for ourselves away from the eyes and minds of others. What happens behind closed doors is not for everyone to see or know about. 

Doors also have a mysterious vibe that reaches back into history. Perhaps it is down to centuries of symbolism that doors, mundane as they may be, still have such a fascination even on a subconscious level. 


Personally, I tell myself that I photograph a door because I just like how it looks. Yet, each time I do take a photo, I wonder if someone will pop up to shoo me away. I then wonder what the person would be like. Then I wonder if I would be able to see over their shoulder and see some secret....OH STOP I MUST STOP!


| Links for the curious |

Jack Spicer Adams has really inspired me with his beguiling collection of doors on Instagram. 


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20.7.16

| Style Notes | Bigger Please?


My search for timeless well made apparel has reached the point where I openly admit that I want to wear children's clothes. 

I am noticing an increasing amount of garments that I wish to high heaven they came in bigger sizes so I could wear them!

Doubtful? Dubious? Think I've spent too long in the sun? 

Look at these. Just look at them!

Alcala Blouse by Motoreta
Meme Kidswear 
Meme Kidswear
Tiny Cottons
Wolf + Rita

See what I mean now? 

The other thing that I've noticed is that many of the independent kids clothes brands out there really up the game with their standards and quality of design and finishing. Fine, tactile, robust and often ethically sourced fabrics are used. The results are tangible and their quality would both shame many adult brands and encourage real care in handling and maintaining the garments. Sure, you won't put your kids in these to go for a rampage through mud. Yes, they are more expensive too, but if this helps teach the value of quality over quantity and the benefits of caring for what we own, then it could be worth the extra pounds.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent haven't I? 



I am off to try and find a device that will transform these clothes into my size.


be back soon.



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12.7.16

Why We Should Celebrate Shadows in Blog Photography.


“I thought the most beautiful thing in the world must be shadow.” Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar


"We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates" Junichi Tanizaki, In Praise of Shadows












It is curious that shadows seem to evoke negative connotations to so many people on one level or another.

To Hiro, shadows are at the very essence of his work and thinking and this has altered the way I perceive them.

In terms of photography, I've seen people go to great lengths to eradicate every whisper of shadow from their photographs, particularly in flat lays. I've done it myself at times, and yet I LOVE SHADOWS. Consequently, I've given in and decided to celebrate shades of umbra more than ever before. The plain truth is that I like what shadow can add to that sterile look that the mainstream seems to lap up.

Shadows are not the opposite of light. Darkness is. Shadow is the volume switch that separates the two. Light and shadow are inseparable friends and there is no sense of one without the other.

Just quickly, here are a few reasons why you should think again before banishing the shadows from your photos.

- They add dimension
- They can add atmosphere and drama to a photo.
- The are a powerful tool for creating texture.
- They sculpt a scene. Natural shadows do this in a way that may never be exactly the same again. There is something wonderful about that.
- They reveal form by making objects legible. Without shadow, things can become 2 dimensional.
- They inform the direction and quality of light.

Don't bust a gut to eradicate all shadows from your blog pics. Don't flood your photos with flat studio-like light. Go on! Give in to shadows! Play with them, explore them, let them onto your blog. If you are still unconvinced, you can just watch us frolic in them - we've started a new Instagram account dedicated to our study of shadows. Follow us HERE.

P.S

I am sorry that I've been unable to blog recently. Thank you so much for your caring and supporting messages. It really warms my heart to hear from so many of you. Thank you!

It's been a tough few weeks. You know those old fashioned mangles with which folks cranked and squeezed their washing through? Well, I feel like I've been worked through one of those.

I will be back soon to regale you with all these stories that I have whispering through the pages of my notebooks and reverberating through my head. 
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29.6.16

| Explore | The Ommatidium


If you find yourself near Old Street roundabout, keep your eyes peeled for dancing rainbows. It's not  another Hipster thing to do, I promise! The dancing rainbows are the conjurings of The Ommatidium. 'The Ommmamamamama whaaaa?', I hear you ask! The Ommatidium is a 4.5 metre tall installation comprising of 1,500 crystal prisms that scatter thousands of little rainbows across the manky pavement by day. It caused our little boy to squeal with delight as we walked passed  so I had to double back. No way was he going to revel in a curiosity without me!






































The Ommatidium is the sparkling work of industrial designer Samuel Wilkinson and neuroscientist Beau Lotto and you can read more about the technicalities of it, including how it engages with an app, HERE. For us though, enjoying a little jig under a myriad of little rainbows in broad daylight in a busy street is enough. This must be what it feels like to be in a kaleidoscope! Perfect.

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25.6.16

| The Magic Mundane | Other People's Plants


I don't want to talk about the craziness of the past few days anymore, so I've been staring at plants.

Other people's plants. I can't help myself. I like looking at other people's plants, especially the ones that they place in their windows. But the ones they grow in their front gardens are nice to look at too.
















Hiro says that I might get myself arrested. 

I hope not!


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