In Europe the royalty and the aristocracy used to eat a lot better than the peasants – they weren’t eating the same things at all. It was either partridge or porridge, and each class stuck to its own food. But when Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I’m sure he felt confident that she couldn’t have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought for her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog. She could get one for twenty cents and so could anybody else.
– Andy Warhol
Why is that ballpark hot dog the best hot dog? Because the ballpark hot dog seller sells nothing but hot dogs. You can’t beat someone who does it day in and day out, a thousand times and another thousand times more often than you.
Every time I look at Nancy Togami’s collection of hundreds of kokeshi, I’m reminded of this championship of experience. Each kokeshi artist carves the same shape, paints the same eyebrows, creates the same facial expression for one doll after another. After each doll, he’s one step closer to perfecting it.
After each oden, Nancy is one step closer to perfecting her oden. And umeboshi. And seared tuna with avocado, frisée, enoki, daikon and tobiko.
The pictures speak for themselves better than I can. This American lady embraces Japanese tradition, cuisine and visual art and incorporates them into her daily lifestyle with so much fine details that humble my experience at any Japanese restaurant I have tried in America. Because they are restaurants. Nancy’s homemade oden is the ballpark hot dog that triumphs over any other hot dog, in the same way that our mothers’ homemade dinners are the best ballpark hot dogs, except they’re the hot dogs that only a handful of lucky people can get. 😉
The meal was so inspiring I felt like I could speak Japanese afterwards.