If at first you don't succeed: In Hawaii, as you may know, teriyaki is a big deal. Nearly every menu has something grilled and brushed with this sweet-and-salty glaze. (Even McDonald's has a McTeri Sandwich!) Yet strangely, we almost never eat teriyaki when we're there. This may be because it's most commonly paired with chicken or beef, and generally we just eat fish when we're in Hawaii.
When we returned from Maui, I felt like I had failed to consume sufficient teriyaki. A homemade effort was in order. I happen to have a number of Hawaiian cookbooks and plucked a recipe from Sam Choy's Island Flavors. Sam had steered me right in the macadamia nut chicken, so why not beef teri?
The recipe calls for marinating thinly sliced beef in an enchanting mix of soy sauce, ginger, and sugar (among other ingredients) for 4-6 hours before grilling it quickly, then topping it with a teriyaki glaze. Doesn't it look fantastic?
Unfortunately, both the marinade and the glaze (two separate concoctions) were horribly salty. I didn't even end up serving the teriyaki glaze because it was beyond edible. What a debacle!
In the end, good old mac salad saved the day. I LOVE Hawaiian mac salad. The husband and I can really put it away, too. So we ate a little beef teri and a lot of rice and mac.
In one way, I'd like to fiddle with the recipe and tweak it to make it just right. In another way, I'd like for someone to just give me a better recipe that I don't have to fix. I think that way wins. Anyone have a good one to share? I'm ready for beef teri, round #2.
A new acquisition: I recently came to acquire this painting*, done by my father at an unknown date, but most likely before I was born. It made its way to me through my cousin, who was clearing out his late parents' house to prepare it for sale. My dad was a fairly prolific painter, ceramicist, and jeweler, and periodically things of his will sort of reappear in my life.
Although I am fortunate to have several of his other works, this painting has quickly become one of my favorites. I'm not sure why, exactly. The reason why we prefer certain pieces of art over others has always been a mystery to me, but one which I enjoy contemplating. This is a quality passed on to me by my dad, who died nearly 16 years ago.
At the time, because I was on the young side, losing a parent at 22 seemed like a great injustice. Now, with some years on me, it's clear to me that there are far, far worse things to have happen to you in your life, chief among them getting stuck with a crummy parent to begin with. I am fortunate that I lucked out and got two good parents, one of who I am grateful to still have with me.
My dad instilled in me several things which shaped my life:
1) Family is the most important thing, and to have a sibling to whom you are close is a great gift.
2) Food is a source of joy.
3) Art is important.
Some of my best memories of my dad are strolling through museums with him--in San Francisco, Washington DC, Mexico City--and talking to him about art. We started doing this when I was very young. He was never didactic, though when I asked him, he would gladly tell me what he knew about the artist, the period in history, and the significance of the piece. These memories are still very vivid for me. Just recently, I had the opportunity to see an excellent exhibit of Picasso's work, on loan from the Picasso Museum in Paris. As I moved through the galleries, I thought a great deal about my dad, and of how much of the way I see the world--what is beautiful or interesting-- is because of him.
In a few weeks, my dad would have turned 77. Right after his death, I remember people saying, in some form or another, "He'll always be with you." Hearing this was baffling to me and sometimes made me angry, even though people meant it to be comforting. In the moment, it seemed like the most ludicrous thing to say. With me was the absolute thing he was not.
I understand it a little better now, even though I still miss him. I think once you are over the really sad part of losing someone, you can think back more easily on the good things. And if you're lucky, like me, that person left you with something--an imprint of their perspective, an alternate framework for understanding the world--that you can carry with you the rest of your life.
*Please excuse the poor quality of the photograph...turns out taking good pictures of paintings is rather difficult.