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Feb 14th
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Far from Plastic

dining_SushiTotoroIn the mood for Japanese food, I sauntered into the little Totoro Sushi on Mission Street. Presented with both a lunch and special sushi menu, I knew immediately what I wanted. Something I had first seen, but made of plastic.

In Japan it is common to see plastic food samples in an eatery's windows. The idea for these replica foods materialized in the 1920s when a young entrepreneur made wax molds to help restaurants show customers how new western dishes appeared. Faux food has since grown into a huge industry. Each dish is custom made, based on photographs and sketches of a chef's dish. A silicon mold is taken of the actual food, and expert artists make plastic sauces, condiments and garnishes. Sometimes, the replica appears more appetizing than the original.

I appreciated this replica food: it was good for pointing at when my dozen or so Japanese words would not suffice. And at a train station on the outskirts of Tokyo, I so gestured at a bowl of Pork Tonkatsu Donburi.

At Sushi Totoro, ice water and hot miso soup were immediately delivered to my table. The soft reggae music would be replaced by Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face', to which the sushi chefs sang accompaniment. On the lunch menu, teriyaki, ribs, and Korean BBQ Bulgogi are some of the choices in two-item ($8.95) and 3-item ($11.95) Bento boxes. Wheat flour udon noodle soups are also available.

Seaweed Salad ($4.95) featured translucent emerald strips of wakame with sesame seeds and aromatic sesame oil. The Donburi ($8.95) arrived in a cavernous bowl half-filled with rice, and topped with chopped, breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet (tonkatsu), sautéed onions, carrots and scrambled eggs. The aroma of leftovers on the drive home almost revived my appetite.


Sushi Totoro, 1701 Mission St., Santa Cruz, 426-6660. Beer and wine. Serving lunch daily 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

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Heart Me Up

In defense of Valentine’s Day

 

“be(ing) of love (a little) more careful”—e.e. cummings

Wednesday (Feb. 10) is Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Friday (Feb. 12) is Lincoln’s 207th birthday. Sunday is Valentine’s Day. On Ash Wednesday, with foreheads marked with a cross of ashes, we hear the words, “From dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return.” Reminding us that our bodies, made of matter, will remain here on Earth when we are called back. It is our Soul that will take us home again. Lent offers us 40 days and nights of purification in preparation for the Resurrection (Easter) festival (an initiation) and for the Three Spring Festivals (at the time of the full moon)—Aries, Taurus, Gemini. The New Group of World Servers have been preparing since Winter Solstice. The number 40 is significant. The Christ (Pisces World Teacher) was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights prior to His three-year ministry. The purpose of this desert exile was to prepare his Archangel (light) body to withstand the pressures of the Earth plane (form and matter). We, too, in our intentional purifications and prayers during the 40 days of Lent, prepare ourselves (physical body, emotions, lower mind) to receive and be able to withstand the irradiation of will, love/wisdom and light streaming into the Earth at spring equinox, Easter, and the Three Spiritual Festivals. What is Lent? The Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, comes from an ancient spring festival, agricultural rites marking the transition between winter and summer. The seasons reflect changes in nature (physical world) and humanity responds with social festivals of gratitude and of renewal. There is a purification process, prayerfulness in nature and in humanity in preparation for a great flow of spiritual energies during springtime. Valentine’s Day: Aquarius Sun, Taurus moon. Let us offer gifts of comfort, ease, harmony, beauty and satisfaction. Things chocolate and golden. Venus and Taurus things.

 

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