Saturday, December 29, 2007
Pass the Sake, Pallie
As JSH previously intimated, I've been M.I.A. on this blog due to the fact that right about at the start of it, inertia was pulling me towards the tropical zone of Hawaii. I never had myself fingered as a kinda tropical guy, but taking a break from a schizo Kentucky winter, and managing to avoid most of the typical tourist bungo on Oahu, my mind stretched across time while sunning myself like a contented lizard, and I can certainly see why 19th century boys like Herman Melville jumped ship to swing with the natives.
If you're not familiar with the scene in Honolulu, you might be surprised at the Asian influence. There's a decent sized Chinatown, and Japanese people just love Hawaii, which in general is much like Japan itself, only warmer. One of the surprising highlights of the trip was seeing and meeting the group of Japanese fellers who live in Honolulu and lay down some rockabilly sounds in the guise of Bari Bari 13. Dressed in black leather, singing in Japanese, these hipsters are a surreal counterpoint to the more obvious and pervasive surfer culture of Hawaii. When I told my cohort Brian Manley that surfers no longer seem to listen to surf music, he sort of sadly/definatly retorted, "Well, what do surfers listen to now, techno?" But it was good to see Bari Bari 13 fighting the good fight. Being that when I talked to them they'd just won the first round of a battle of the bands on Oahu, maybe they'll be spreading the gospel more and more.
But I ain't here just to talk Japanese rockabilly, but since I am talking about the Japanese, let's talk turkey. And if not wild turkey, then sake. Yes, sake. Sake is to Japan what bourbon is to Kentucky.
Now, what I have always heard from most honkies (and by the way, the native word in Hawaii for honky is "howlie" (phonetically speaking, not sure on the spelling)) is "Oh, I can't do sake." But I think this is mostly an ignorance thing. Trying one particular brand of sake is not indicitive of getting a taste for the broad spectrum of variety that comprises the rainbow of choices when it comes to sake. It's like saying you can't handle bourbon, when you've only drank the cheapest Heaven Hill, and never done yourself the favor of taking a swig of Woodford Reserve. And, in the spirit of fellowship with the Japanese people, I figured, while in Honolulu with its dense Jap population, I might as well go ahead and put my feet on the surf board to take my first real ride on the sake wave.
Sitting in the sushi joint, Sansei, in Waikiki, listening to a Japanese jazz band, I read all the descriptions of the various sake one could order. I figured, from what I could infer, that I was most likely a dry sake kinda guy. After sampling three different dry sakes, I can now speak to you as a drinker who has discovered his first sake preference. The Masumi brand of Okuden Kanstsukuri, aka "Mirror of Truth," Junmai, for my taste buds, is the stuff. It's traditional, and apparently a fave of many longtime sake drinkers.
Yes, sitting in the sushi joint in Waikiki, drinking my sake, if not able to pronunce my sake with complete accuracy, I pondered myself, pondered the ocean, pondered the islands, both of Hawaii and of Japan, and knew that I was was destined for greatness.