Rachael White is an American food lover currently residing in Tokyo, and is the creator of the Tokyo Terrace food blog. These are two characteristics that greatly interested me in her thoughts on eating and food culture. Much like the cuisine of the country she calls home, Rachael treats the relationships between food and people with respect and affection. Whether she’s blogging, traveling, or answering nine Food Adventurer Queries from a fellow food blogger inspired by what she does, her love for what and how we eat is evident and infectious, and Flavorful World is ecstatic over being able to share a slice of it with you.
Flavorful World: David Mamet wrote, “Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” Excluding pie as an option, what food(s) instantly relieve your stresses, and why?
Rachael White: There are a number of foods I turn to when I am feeling stressed, but one that seems to be pretty consistent is cheese. Good, flavorful cheese has a way of forcing me to slow down and take a deep breath. I think it is because I tend to buy cheese that should be savored, every bite allowed to slowly melt on my tongue rather than being inhaled like a handful of potato chips.
FW: What is the most inexpensive, most delicious item of street food you’ve ever purchased, and in what city/country did you enjoy it?
RW: The very best street food I have purchased would have to be yakisoba in Tokyo, Japan. I love yakisoba, stir-fried noodles with vegetables and beef or pork, and it can be found in abundance at most outdoor events here.
FW: Do you, like a seemingly increasing number of people, perceive a negative connotation in the term “Foodie”? Tell us why or why not, and then coin a new phrase to replace it.
RW: The term itself doesn’t bother me, but I think that the assumptions some people make in relation to it are a bit unfair. Just because someone is a foodie doesn’t make them elitist when it comes to eating, just passionate and perhaps interested in the whole process of farming, preparing and eating food. If I could coin a new phrase to replace it, I would probably use the term “Crazy Culinarian.”
FW: Aside from your country of residence, tell us your favorite country for eating and what dish makes it your favorite.
RW: I’ve really enjoyed the food in most countries I’ve visited, but I will never ever forget the food in Italy. It sounds cliché, but it’s hard to beat good, carb-filled pasta dishes, rustic plates of gnocchi, and sinful desserts topped off with an excellent espresso. My favorite meal on my last visit was a simple plate of pasta dressed in nothing but olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, served alongside lobster. Decadent, simple, and perfect.
FW: By your personal observation, do you believe that the explosion of food media (television programming, blogging, online recipe archives, mobile apps, etc.) over the past several years has inspired unadventurous eaters to be more welcoming of new culinary experiences, or has it been your experience that uninspired eaters are more likely to remain that way?
RW: I absolutely believe that food media has led to a greater number of adventurous eaters. While some of the media out there is not the best, much of it serves to educate. With knowledge comes power and with power comes confidence to try new things. I have seen proof of this in my own family (Minnesotans obsessed with sushi rather than meat and potatoes) and I would say I am evidence of these changes as well. There will always be those who are not willing to leave their comfort zone, but that’s how traditions stick around, so it isn’t really a bad thing.
FW: Do you typically listen to music while you cook, and if so, does the style/genre change depending upon the dishes you’re preparing?
RW: I have to have music playing when I cook. It helps me to move more freely about the kitchen and fosters a bit more creativity and freedom. I usually listen to something I can sing along to rather than something eardrum-busting. While the music doesn’t necessarily impact the overall concept of the dish I’m preparing, my success rate in the kitchen is always higher when I have some of my favorite tunes going (from Blossom Dearie and Ella Fitzgerald, to Lady Antebellum and, recently, The Head and the Heart).
FW: Other than your home, tell us where and what you might typically find yourself eating/drinking on a balmy Friday evening after work.
RW: My favorite after-work activity is to come home, enjoy a glass of wine and a nice bite of cheese with some olives while watching one of my favorite shows. After that, I love spending my Friday evenings with friends at various Izakayas in Tokyo enjoying yakitori and beer, followed by some serious singing at Karaoke.
FW: Excluding the name of any of your pre-existing blogs, websites, or print/online personas, tell us what name you would give to your memoir about your culinary exploits?
RW: This is a tough question! I think if I were to give my memoir a name right now at this very moment, it would have to be something to the effect of “Biscuits & Gravy. Sushi & Rice.” This title describes perfectly my culinary life, from my mom’s southern cooking to the delicate, vastly different food-life of Japan. And everything in between, of course.
FW: When you aren’t cooking and/or eating delicious foods, how do you most enjoy spending your time?
RW: Much of my time is spent with my husband – he is my very best friend and the strongest supporter of my blog and food explorations. We like to spend time reading, or on some occasions playing video games on our Wii. And of course, we love exploring new places to eat anywhere we go. He puts up with me and my food-obsessed self. On my own, I enjoy singing (I’ve dabbled in classical singing for quite a few years), and sometimes get the nerve up to do a little drawing or painting.
*Note to readers: Tasty ingredients are always coming together at Tokyo Terrace. If you’re not already following Tokyo Terrace on Twitter, then you, my friend, are missing out on some phenomenal recipes, food photography, restaurant experiences, and more, as well as ongoing posts on life and travel in Japan. A wise person wanting to be sure about staying in the know should also spread some “Like” on the Tokyo Terrace Facebook page and check out the awesomeness that is her monthly food column over at Menuism.com.