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Alice Waters: American Food with a Japanese Touch

August 4, 2016

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Favorite Japanese Ingredients and Japanese Cooking Tools

I definitely like the sheets of Nori. I don't mind people bring me a present of Nori because it doesn't taste like any of the things that we have here. I also think the vinegar is very interesting and has so much flavor. When you put that on something, it really changes the character of it. I find it really fits in my kitchen. It's a part of my personal seasoning. We get all these organic products because we're friends of an American who married a Japanese. She comes over here all the time and she brings presents and we have these beautiful products.

We're doing a program in the public schools. We have a project called "The Edible Schoolyard Project" and the kids just love to make their own sushi. They do it with vegetables. They shred the vegetables, and then they roll them in the rice and then with the Nori. It's one of their favorite things of the school year. Food is such a great way to teach about the culture of a place. The kids all eat with chopsticks. I think there are so many awesome dishes in Japanese cooking that could become part of an American diet. That's what my next book is going to be about. It's a sort of a school diet that pays attention to seasons and incorporates global foods and the most nutritious foods that we can find.

My favorite thing to use in the kitchen is the Suribachi, a Japanese mortar. I love to particularly use the Suribachi and I make all my vinaigrettes using that because it's got the roughness in the inside and you can grind the garlic really well to put at the bottom of the vinaigrette. They come in all sizes and I like that. I also use Japanese knives at home when I'm cooking. I just find them much more comfortable. They are a nice scale and they're a little bit different from other knives. German knives are, when you put them together, kind of heavy. I love the depth of the blade because you just scoop things up and put them somewhere. It works as a sort of a spatula. It's very easy to use the tools.


Alice Waters began the Edible Schoolyard Project in 1995 to build and share an edible educational curriculum for kindergarten through high school.

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