Our daughter’s elementary school started on Monday, and it was her first day today to go to school without us (this is the norm in Japan). There is a group of children in our neighborhood walking together to school, so technically she is not totally alone.
She didn’t even look back. Even insisted on coming home alone. I find myself totally at a loss of my daughter’s independent set of mind, and realised that I am the one who need to get used to the new phase of her life.
Off you go, my little girl.
This is it.
My daughter’s last kindergarten bento.
It sort of crossed my mind to make it somewhat special, but no, no, it went just like another normal day. We barely made it on time to school on her last day, which is, in a way, endearing and memorable in many forms, as if these past three years got encapsulated in one morning.
I will miss it, this whole bento making routine, school runs in haste, and a bit stressful PTA’s with other fellow mums & dads. But I’m also sure that I’m ready to move on, to witness my darling girl to step into the next phase of her life, to the bigger world out there.
Well done honey, I’m so proud of you.
Tomorrow is her graduation.
This word is very hard to spell in alphabets! Ka Ra A Ghe – you pronounce all the vowels individually, just like in Italian if that makes sense. The last one, Ghe, is pronounced as in spaGHEtti. Basically, it is bite-sized deep fried chicken, usually made with boneless chicken thigh (shown above in brown – cut into smaller pieces for bento for easier packing and eating).
My family usually never ask me what dish to cook (unless I ask). They are very easy, and happily eat whatever I put on the table without any complaints. But yesterday at the grocery store, my daughter asked me, out of the blue, that she wants to eat Ka-Ra-A-Ghe. Ok then, so be it.
Marinate bite-sized chicken thigh in the marinade (proportion I use is 1 soy sauce, 1 mirin, 1 Japanese sake, with 1/3 ground garlic, 1/3 ground ginger & some edges of spring onion for flavour). I only left them for half an hour or so, but maybe even better if you leave it longer, 2-3 hours.
Right before you deep fry them, take the chicken out of the marinade, toss them into Katakuriko 片栗粉 (potato starch).
Deep fry them in regular canola oil until golden brown.
School run is a big deal. This morning, I was getting things done from one thing to another, packing my daughter’s bento, doing dishes, putting my makeup on while drinking cappuccino in the bathroom, putting breakfast on the table for my daughter, eating my breakfast standing up, and so on and on, so that we can go out the door in order to make it to her school on time.
Her bento had already been prepared on the kitchen counter, but I just didn’t have time to take a picture of it. My iPhone was within my daughter’s reach, so I asked her to take a picture of her bento for me. She is well aware of my routine to keep the record of her daily bento, so she was very cooperative. She grabbed my iPhone and placed it in front of my face to unlock it, and took this beautiful image.
I always take her bento photos from straight above and never thought of changing the angle. I didn’t look at the photo right away, but when I did, it took me by surprise as the image gave me a totally different impression, with somehow different lighting and ambience from mine. It perhaps looked more… sophisticated. For the past three years, I’ve made her bento so many times and took a few photos each time. But I have never taken anything like what my daughter took today. Maybe it’s because I was more focused on being consistent each day, and unfortunately failed to see things from various perspectives.
With my daughter’s graduation approaching in four days, I won’t have so much chance to practice my photography skills on her kindergarten bento. Still, it feels as if my daughter has taught me an important life lesson, right before her three year kindergarten life is about to complete.
For those who didn’t see it at the first glance, notice the three hearts made of Japanese Nori seaweed.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
It is our daughter’s first day back at school in Tokyo after our wonderful Christmas/New Year holiday in Europe. We had a magical time, spending time with our family and close & new friends, away from home, making yet another unforgettable memories.
On our way home from the airport yesterday, we stopped at our local supermarket to replenish our empty fridge. It was incredible to see our daughter getting excited at the traditional Japanese ingredients she hadn’t eaten for the past two plus weeks. Despite her flexible palate, she must have craved for the taste from home.
For her first bento for the year, I packed shirasu, baby sardines, over freshly cooked rice, one of the very Japanese ingredients she eagerly requested.