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January 5, 2018


“Five pounds???” Noooooo….but, yes, anyone could have gained three to five pounds just eating unfamiliar food for the past 10 days, as what has happened to me. Unfamiliar is a strong word. Maybe “not the usual” is more like it. That’s what happens when you choose family over diet and friends over pounds. “Just enjoy and eat everything,” and suffer later. Suffer is the first word that comes to mind because all that exercise before Christmas just went out the window. But we do things for family and friends. And that’s what’s important.

So to all my vegan friends, be patient. I am a work in progress.

I remember speaking in a Slow Food event and declaring that if I had to eat beef, it would have to be Wagyu or Kobe. Well, that’s exactly what we had. Kobe everything—from Kobe siopao, to breaded Kobe beef cutlets, to teppanyaki Kobe. Because we could not find room in the otherwise street food market, we settled down and had a family style Teppanyaki kobe set (A5, no less).

I remember saying if I had to eat fish, it would have to be toro (tuna belly). And that’s what we had—a plateful of tuna from the regular Maguro (tuna meat) to Chu-toro (medium fat tuna belly) and then O-toro. No wonder it’s called that. After a bite, you say “Oh, toro!”. There’s no ordinary fish in this place called Maru—just seasonal fish and fresh harvest of the day.

And chicken. I have not had chicken for so long, but it seems to be the most popular meat in Japan. Chicken yakitori or tebasaki (the dreaded wings), negamaki or the chicken with leeks in between, and chicken meatballs that are grilled and perfect with the worst culprit called Japanese rice! I did not even see brown rice on this trip.

And for pork, don’t even choose. Everything has a pork version. The tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) made with Kurubota pork, the siopao and gyoza and siomai from 551 Horai at the Shin-Osaka station, and tonkatsu curry rice if you still have room in the tummy.

So what to do when all that meat is served at family meals? Just eat it, then make up for it later.

Breakfast is the savior. As breakfast in our super nice hotels are served buffet style, I had salads, fruit and granola. Breakfast is your conscience talking to you and telling you to prepare for the day’s feasting with family. Start with good coffee, fresh yogurt, fruits and then the salads with mizuna (a Japanese green), sesame dressing and lots of colors. That explains my Instagram posts for that week that are all salads and coffee.

But the best part is eating with family. We had yakiniku, shabu shabu, and these are meals you can cook and eat together. I was lucky to have three cooks with me at my table so all I had to do was wait and eat. That explains the three or five pounds. Communing with family is a week well spent and a week to taste the flavors of a new place—together.

So, don’t fret if like me you have gained some. Restart your metabolism by going back to the normal routine: small meals, healthy choices, and no meats if you can help it.

And instead of sulking, be thankful for the blessings and good food. Most of all, being with family. You can have many diets but only one family. Choose to give family your best time and best version of yourself.

Happy New Year!


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