One of my homework assignments this weekend is among the most difficult I have been required to do.
I do not necessarily mean difficult from an academic standpoint. I have had more academically challenging tasks to perform.
The assignment tears me apart. “Should the United States have dropped the atomic bombs on Japan?”
I recognize the appalling behavior of the Japanese army before and during the Second World War. Perhaps I would see the question differently if I were not a Japanese-American. If it were a different nation upon which we released “…Death, the destroyer of worlds,” how would I feel about the issue? Still shocked by the horror unleashed, but I would be able to take a more detached, rational-minded view.
I wrote yes. Yes that the bomb was the lesser of two evils. Yes because the expedient end to the war prevented the U.S.S.R. from reaching Japan and establishing their own zone of occupation. Yes because I know the pain of the divided Germans before 1989, the heartbreak of the separated Koreans still today.
I cannot put myself into this paper. I must state my opinion and the facts. There are things I long to add to the words of that essay, which I cannot. That it breaks my heart to take the stance that I did. That it is to my deep regret that wars must happen. And yet it seems that there are occasions when they must.
With today’s recipe, I hope to initiate peace and reconciliation. Peace that comes with sitting around a table with people of different backgrounds, enjoying food from different cultures and conversing. And realizing that we aren’t so different after all. And moving on from our past errors into a more hopeful future. Though right now that future seems unlikely, as the events of the news trend toward the disheartening, perhaps a change in our perception of each other may inch us closer to a brighter tomorrow. If we learn about each other, then no matter the decisions made by our leaders and foreign leaders, we will be civil toward each other to the best of our ability. And maybe there will be no more Rapes of Nanking, no more Bataan Death Marches, no more Executive Orders 9066, no more unleashings of atomic bombs.
Will you join me?
Mochi is not a treat exclusive to Japan. Glutinous (mochi) rice is widely used throughout Asia. (Note that glutinous refers to the rice’s stickiness; it is gluten-free). In fact, if I am not mistaken, mochi cake originated in Hawaii as a result of the Japanese influence there. Mochi cake contains all the components of a Western flour cake, but mochiko (glutinous rice flour) is used in the place of wheat flour. I like to make it less sweet than other cakes, because I am accustomed to mochi not being sweet (it’s usually covered in some kind of sweet sauce or topping; I often had it as a child in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar). But you can adjust it to your taste. The cake is sticky, like mochi, but holds its shape because of its cake constituents.
The original recipe contained vanilla extract, but the idea of that somewhat repulsed me. I like the pure mochi taste. I’ve also made a matcha (green tea) flavored mochi cake, but I feel that plain is vastly superior. Just my opinion. I usually like to drink matcha, though. Did I mention that it’s slimming and full of antioxidants? But I digress.
The recipe is adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings. You should try her blog–she has some singular recipes.
Adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings
1 cup melted butter (I used applesauce)
2 cups sugar or Stevia in the raw (not the liquid Stevia, the kind in bags)
4 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. baking powder
16 oz. box Mochiko flour (Available at most Asian grocery stores. Also, I believe this is 4 cups; check the nutrition label on the box)
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix butter and sugar.
Beat in the evaporated milk to the butter mixture. Beat in eggs.
Beat in the rice flour and baking powder.
Pour batter into a 9x 13 inch pan. Bake for about 1 hour.
Cool completely before cutting.