these past few months have been super hectic. balancing school, work, commuting and ‘running the house’ can easily become overwhelming. sadly, the blog suffered the most, being put aside in the mayhem of day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. my head is buzzing with ideas, projects and stories, awaiting to be introduced on aho, and yet – i need to restrain myself from writing. i’ve got a different sort of writing to get out of the way first.
a much dreaded word, something what could have been pleasurable to write, if it wasn’t for the deadline (15 September) and the fact that, unfortunately, i can’t afford the luxury of throwing myself into the dissertation writing completely, forgetting about the whole world around me. instead, i am frantically trying to be the best at everything: work, home, school, which results in me failing them all.
as always, i have chosen a very difficult topic to write about, because why would i make things easy for myself? i have decided to write about washoku, traditional Japanese dietary practices (or are they?) and its relationship with the UNESCO application as intangible cultural heritage. i thought it’d be interesting to discover the mechanisms behind (supposed) ‘protecting’ of intangible heritage, and instead – i found myself drowning in a wide array of literature, from Japanese history to nation branding and theories of postmodernity. i have spent numerous sleepless nights, trying to figure out if it’s even possible to protect something as elusive as ‘cuisine’ and how would this protection work on the ground. the issue of commodification of tradition has been tormenting me as well, and i couldn’t help but wonder: is there a point of searching out ‘endangered’ traditions and trying to revive them, bring them back to life, even if it’s only for the tourists’ amusement?
i read and read, and read, restlessly. everyone around me was telling me to get to writing, because i have ‘obviously read enough!’. i have read over 100 books (including heavy theory, history books, anthropology, food anthropology, philosophy, cookbooks, food writing, academic articles, UNESCO declarations, applications and definitions), watched a few documentary films, spoke to a dozen people about washoku and i still find myself confused. what is all this mess?, i keep asking myself.
the deadline is approaching, and all i have so far is bibliography. it’s stressful, very stressful, to think that time is shrinking and i am nowhere close to the finish line.
i wonder: is everyone that confused with their dissertation writing? is everyone going through a mountain of texts, books, articles, just to have this ‘Eureka!’ moment, when you finally (think) you got it? i never thought i would go back to Foucault so soon. or Derrida. or read 100 pages of Baudrillard, just because his theories on consumer society seem to be valid. and i never thought i would base my whole argument on Barthes’ theories on modern myth. and that i would indulge in a discourse analysis of Japan’s application to designate washoku as UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage. and, to be honest, i still can’t decide if: a/ such a thing as national cuisine is possible, b/ protection or revival of tradition are valid practices, as they usually lead to commodification and creation of Disney-like atmosphere, artificial more than authentic, c/ the whole discourse of ‘endangered’ traditions and the idea of protecting them by outside, trans-national organisations seems to be yet another ‘baby’ of consumerism; for me personally, tradition is something alive, constantly evolving and changing, and protecting it and putting it in the museum (or performing it for tourists) seems somehow odd and unnatural.
in the fervour of reading, researching, and constantly thinking about all this, i found myself having no time to prepare and eat nutritious and nourishing food. i don’t know about you guys, but if my food suddenly stops being colourful and healthy, i get sad. i am not saying i am some health purist, who only eats what’s good for me (we all like to be sinful from time to time, and cakes are delicious, indeed), but i do love eating a variety of veggies, grains, and proteins.
when i was in Poland last month, i (obviously) visited a local bookshop, in search of inspiration. and i found this amazing book, containing a collection of recipes for healthy, nourishing meals, snacks and desserts. ‘Beauty&Food’ by Emilie Hebert is now my go-to book, every time i feel i need something ‘good for me’. the recipe for this anti-stress granola comes from this book. the granola itself is easy to make and so, so, so good. you can personalise it, too, by adding nuts and dried fruits you like. eaten with yoghurt for breakfast, this homemade granola is a perfect choice.
ANTI-STRESS HOMEMADE GRANOLA
for 600g jar
300g porridge oats
50g dried apricots
10g goji berries
40g chia seeds (can be replaced with linseeds or half-half)
100-150ml apple juice
50g maple syrup or agave syrup
1/2 tsp of salt
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2. Wrap hazelnuts and almond in the clean kitchen cloth, and hit them with a rolling pin, to smash them. Careful not to make the pieces too small, we want them fairly chunky.
3. Add all the ingredients into a bowl (apart from goji berries and apricots), mix with your hand or a wooden spoon and pour everything out into a baking tin. Put in the oven for about 45 minutes (can be less, depending on the oven) and bake until golden brown. Be careful not to burn it! If you like big, chunky pieces in your granola, stir the mixture from time to time during baking.
4. Take out of the oven and let it chill. When completely chilled, mix in the goji berries and dried apricots (cut into strips). Move into a jar or cereal container.
All done! Beautiful homemade granola recommends itself for breakfast ^^