Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas at the Kaikan

It was your typical holiday scene on December 25th, 2011, at the home of the Bekkasei students of Budo University in Katsuura, Japan. Everyone gathered round the Christmas Cane and peered with wide eyes and wonder at the heaps of food laid out before them. No stockings were hung by the chimney with care, but I do believe there were some slippers left haphazardly by the door. NO one wore a kerchief or a cap, but rather tracksuits and hoodies were quite in vogue. Sugar plumbs did not dance in our heads, but rather high-carb pastas and potatoes rested sanguinely in our stomachs. There did, however, arise such a clatter from the kitchen…. But that just turned out to be a Finish man who had no idea how to cook.

It’s never nice to spend the holidays alone and, let’s face it, plane tickets were just too expensive to afford this year. So the Bekkasei who remained in Japan for the holidays all gathered together on the night of the 25th to share a wonderful meal. The only requirement was that each person makes something to share; no chips or snacks purchased at the convenience store were permitted. If there's one thing all martial artists have in common it’s a love of eating!

The variety of smells emanating from the kitchen was something spectacular. Seven countries were represented around our table, that night, and each person made something unique. From Italy we had spaghetti a la carbonara; way, way too much spaghetti a la carbonara. As an American from Michigan, I made bean soup and a blueberry cake (from scratch, baked in a rice cooker). Another American made clam chowder while our third fellow from New York made stuffing. From Korea we had kimchi and bibimbap, while our Turkish member made chicken and rice. From China we sampled another, much spicier chicken and our Mexicans provided fajitas and tacos. The German PHD student brought gingerbread and… chile con carne? (well, it’s not German, but it’s good). Finally, our Finish friend made… something. There were several attempts at boiling and then frying potatoes. After all was said and done there was a huge bowl of mashed potatoes and a fried potato dish with sausage and eggs. And mustard. Don’t forget the mustard. The mustard really makes this dish, use the damned mustard.

We pushed together four tables in the center of our assembly hall and erected the very traditional “Christmas Cane!” That is to say: my walking stick with red lights and a battery pack mounted on it. There was, in fact, a small Christmas tree in the adjoining room, but we decided that the “Christmas Cane” was far more representative of our gathering and thus should be used in place of any more typical signs of the holidays.

As we all fell into the deep coma provided by consuming sugar and carbs, one last merry little thought filled our heads….
Ohhh hell; I just went up an entire weight-class.

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