ex-pat to plain ol’ patriot: the american south as a foreign land.


oh my, there has been a lot in transition.

its hard to believe i’ve been away from pmk for a little over a year now.  i don’t want to bore you with the details, so i’ll just rattle them all off as fast as i can.

moved back to america.  adopted a dog that looks like a pokemon.  got a job at a corporate market firm on a complete whim.  moved to nashville tennessee with the company four months later.  became a whiz at getting people to buy things they didn’t need or want.  made some fat stacks, but felt bad.  quit like a boss.  got engaged to the love of my life after 8.5 years of dating.  decided to come on back to the poor man’s kitchen.  almost everything about my life has changed in some regard, but the pmk is still my home on the internet.

it is worth noting at this point that, although i haven’t been posting, i have been cooking up a storm since i left the far east.  i’ve departed the fish-laden shores of japan and come to a land far more bizarre than i ever could have imagined.

the south.  or maybe souf.  i’m not sure how its pronounced, that seems to be the way the locals say it.

the food here is magical in its own way, and over the past eight months i’ve learned to embrace it.  the “meat and three” concept makes up for its unimaginative name by being pretty darn delicious.  soul food restaurants and tiny tex-mex joints litter the culinary landscape.  hot chicken rubbed with enough spices it is dangerous to put your hands near your eyes, which is inevitable because of the tears streaming down your face.  collard greens, whatever those are.

people down here talk about things like deep-fried beer and aren’t sure whether or not it is a travesty.  you can’t buy liquor on sundays and grocery stores don’t carry wine.  every road is a highway and nobody can drive.  there is a festival in memphis next week in which 84 tons of pork will be consumed over the course of three days.

i’m scared.  but excited.

pmk is going through a drastic change and i’m dragging you guys along for the ride.  goodbye fresh fish straight out of the ocean, hello whole roast chickens.  less teriyaki, more barbecue.  the return of cheese.  and believe it or not, i even have an oven (note the conspicuous lack of the word “toaster”).

more to come,

the poor man



nikujaga: eat like an admiral.

there is a special place in my heart for what i call “errant foods.”

i find that when a food manages to make its way across national borders (and sometimes oceans) to establish itself in a new locale, is worth giving a try once or twice at the very least.

i firmly believe that there should be a division of anthropology devoted to the study of errant food.  errant food never develops in a vacuum; it is the result of cultural interaction, which means the resulting recipes can be used as a sort of historic landmark for when, where, and how culinary traditions from different cultures collided.

Continue reading


sesame-covered tebasaki: just winging it.

as babies, most of us regularly ate and bathed in our food at the same time.  and even though we are all adults (some more than others), i think a small morsel of that glorious messy-eater mentality remains in each and every one of us, regardless of how cultured, well-preened, and properly educated we may be.  somewhere deep inside, we all have a soft spot for getting really super messy at meal time.

it follows, therefore, that there are very few people in this world who don’t enjoy a good chicken wing.

Continue reading


poor man prepped a plate of pan-fried piiman.

when my japanese elementary schoolers list off the foods they detest, there are three which top the list without fail.  eggplant and mushrooms are neck and neck at number two, but so far, the undisputed winner is piiman.  the following is a brief list of reactions i have observed at the mere mention of the word piiman:

  1. vigorous shaking of the head
  2. two thumbs down
  3. face-palm
  4. face expression reminiscent of edvard munch’s “the scream”
  5. ten solid seconds of fake barfing noises

Continue reading


japanese tuna salad rolls: a bound salad set free.

if you were to wander into one of the estimated 46,000 convenience stores in japan, you would eventually come upon a section of the refrigerated shelving designated for rice balls.  some of them contain extravagent ingredients, like spiced cod roe, chopped green onions, and fresh wasabi.  others are decidedly non-japanese in flavor, such as the surreptitiously bright yellow dry curry rice balls.

but no matter where you go, regardless of whether you are in a 7-11, familymart, circle k, daily yamazaki, or lawson, you will undoubtedly find a rice ball labeled “sea chicken.”

it contains, as you might guess, a 1:1 mixture of tuna and mayonnaise.  they are the cheapest for a reason. namely, because they are just awful.

Continue reading


curried pork belly: swined and dined.

humor me for a second here.

imagine, if you will, a pork belly.

now imagine not rubbing it generously with pink curing salt and/or nitrates.  imagine not curing or smoking it.  imagine not using it to make bacon or any bacon-esque food (e.g. pancetta, proscuitto, speck, canadian bacon, etc).

Continue reading