Wednesday, April 25, 2018


I was walking in the afternoon, more or less in the neighborhood, trying to keep the Black Dog at bay, when I suddenly felt an urgent need for some supermarket sushi.  I don’t suppose it absolutely had to be from a supermarket. If there’d been a perfect ten-seater sushi restaurant nearby I’d probably have gone there, but I knew a Gelson’s supermarket was nearby, and that was my only reasonable hope.  

In fact I’ve been eating some pretty reasonable sushi of late.  This plate was at Kombu Sushi in Silverlake, and yes, some of it’s sashimi.

That’s definitely saba (Japanese mackerel) at the back – there was also Spanish mackerel on the menu and I wanted to do a compare and contrast, but they’d run out of the Spanish.  I wouldn’t want to swear what the other two were – presumably yellowtail on the left, and I suppose octopus on the right - but I wouldn't put money on it.  It was all pretty good though.

The last supermarket sushi I ate, put on as a treat by my hostess when I did a reading/event at Glendale Community College, a little while ago now, was actually not bad at all - note the veggies:

It appears to have come from the Nijaya market, a pretty reliable Japanese chain.

And so this afternoon, while out walking, I strolled into Gelson’s and bought a box of “Nigri assorted sushi” (not as assorted as all that, as you can see) and took it home with me.  It was good enough – yellowtail and salmon, I think, though the label was very confusing.  And there’s a ton of rice lurking under the fish.  Obviously you don’t have to eat if all, but just as obviously you always do.

-      And the Black Dog? Oh, he's never far away, sometimes it’s the walking that helps, sometimes it’s the sushi.  And maybe the Sapporo helped a little too, but only a little.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Above is “The Temptation and Fall of Eve”by William Blake, 1808.  As we know, there’s a lot of discussion about what kind of fruit was hanging on the Tree of Knowledge. The Bible doesn’t specify the apple by name, and certainly whatever’s on that tree of Blake’s looks like no fruit I’ve ever seen.

There’s a lot to know about William Blake and I don’t pretend to know very much of it, although I have known for a long time that there’s a “Blake Lived Here” plaque on the wall of his former home in South Moulton Street.  When I first saw it there was a burger bar in the premises, though there currently seems to be an eyebrow waxing joint.

And then just this weekend I found out a couple of new things I never knew about Blake’s eating and drinking habits, though I can’t pretend they’re “discoveries” since both these facts are recorded in The Life of William Blake, "Pictor Ignotus," Blake’s first biography, by Alexander Gilchrist, two volumes, 1863.
      The first fact is that when Blake's wife Catherine wanted to hammer home to him just how desperate they were for funds, she’d place an empty plate in front of him at dinner time.  This supposedly concentrated his mind and he'd go off to do some engraving, which earned him money.

The other thing I learned, that although Blake wasn’t much of a wine drinker he had strong feelings about how it should be drunk – from a tumbler, and according to Gilchrist he “thought the wine glass system absurd: a very heretical opinion in the eyes of your true wine drinker.” 

Well, of course, we all know that different wines are served in different kinds of glass, but I never thought of it as a system exactly.  Although of course Blake did say, "I must Create a System or be enslaved by another Man's," and maybe he thought this applied to drinking vessels too.  And maybe that was his joke.  Or Gilchrist's.

Above are some “typical” 18thcentury wine glasses.  They do look a bit fussy, and of course you do get a lot more in a tumbler, such as these, decorated with Blake's Great Red Dragon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018


I missed this when it was first reported but it’s coming up now in various places, as just one among many examples of anti-Muslim bias by state and local Republican officials. In 2015, former Nebraska State Senator Bill Kintner suggested that any Muslim wishing to visit the United States should be forced to eat pork, as a condition of entry.

Of course this sounds like complete madness, and I’m not sure that everybody took Kintner very seriously on this or any other matter (he’s now resigned for other reasons), and I hope somebody pointed out that there may be other groups in the world, other than Muslims, who decline to eat pork. 

      Still, you can see a certain logic to the man's thinking.  It’s no bad thing that visitors to a country should throw themselves into the local culinary customs.  So that Americans wanting to visit Britain should be forced to eat Marmite and Spotted Dick before they’re allowed in.  I imagine there would be some kind of field kitchen set up next to passport control.

Anybody wants to go to Japan, they should be forced to eat whale and blow fish.  Kangaroo before they’re allowed into Australia,  cute puppy before visiting certain parts of Korea and China.
I have never knowingly eaten puppy, or even dog, but I’ve certainly eaten all the rest.  Only the blowfish was a slight disappointment.

Above is a picture of some pigs in Cairo.  They're owned by garbage collectors, and they eat garbage from the streets of the city, which I suppose is some version of being free range.  We know that millions of pigs were slaughtered in Cairo in 2009 – the excuse was that they were carrying swine flu.  Maybe some of them even were.  
          The situation keeps changing but I understand the current law in Cairo is that it’s OK to keep pigs but illegal to slaughter them.  And it’s OK to eat pork, if you’re not a Muslim, but it has to be imported from Germany.  I suspect there may be quite a few local pigs who find themselves reclassified as Germans.

Thursday, April 5, 2018


Did you ever eat conch?  I hadn’t until a couple of days ago.  I ate it at the Kura Revolving Sushi Bar (in a mini-mall on Sawtelle Boulevard) and you know, that’s a terrible misnomer.   Nothing revolves, least of all the restaurant, but the food does come on an amazingly long conveyor belt that snakes all the way around the restaurant, and is genuinely impressive.  Even more impressive, there’s a touch screen above your table and you tap on it to order extra things, and they come on a separate belt, at a higher level than the main one, and they stop right at your table.  
          Man, it’s like eating in the future (“One possible future.  From your point of view.  I don't know tech stuff."). So anyway the conch came as nigiri and looked like this:

You may think it looks minimalist, or just a bit unexciting.  It was chewy rather than rubbery, and not exactly bursting with flavor, but at least I can now say that I’ve eaten conch.  I know there are various kinds of conch - king, queen, even the horse conch - and unfortunately I can’t tell you which type I ate.

I can now also say that I’ve eaten tuna yukhoe (below), an essentially Korean dish according to my sources, a form of tuna tartare, though it seemed pulverized rather than chopped, with a scallion garnish, and the yellow stuff is egg yolk to which something inscrutable has been done (I think).

Oh, and for reference, this is what an actual revolving restaurant looks like, the 360 CN 

Tower in Toronto, where I did once have breakfast.  But revolving restaurants are always 

better at night.