Art and Fun on the Menu for Senior Lunch Program – Rafu Shimpo

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From left: Doug Nakada, Scott Hamamoto, Susan Shojinaga  and Patti Kimura.
 

By NJ NAKAMURA

Getting older usually means more white hairs, the inner ears don’t pick up sounds very well and maybe one’s muscles and joints start to ache more. But despite all those changes, getting older comes with senior discounts and doing fun things with other seniors! So, why don’t you just grab your cane or walker and go experience more exciting days? Yippee!

On Aug. 15, approximately 50 seniors enjoyed the Keiro and Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s (JACCC) Bento and Art Lunch Program for Older Adults. Many seniors rode the chartered bus from the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center and a few members drove their own cars into Little Tokyo.

The newly built dining area, the Toshizo Watanabe Culinary and Cultural Center, is so beautiful. It is pleasantly modern with floor-to-ceiling glass windows that look onto the peaceful James Irvine Japanese Garden.

Bentos by Chef Chris Ono were served in wooden boxes.

We were all treated to the culinary talent of Rising Chef in Residency Chris Ono. As a Yonsei, Chef Ono grew up eating the Japanese American comfort-food flavors we are all familiar with. He masterfully made slight changes and created a meal with much more flavor.

Our bento, in a real wooden box, was filled with sautéed chicken and summer vegetables with miso crab sauce, “toriniku to natsu yasai no saute/kani miso sosu.” The nori furikake, sprinkled on the rice, was Chef Ono’s own recipe. Usually, I try to avoid eating a lot of carbohydrates, such as rice. But unexpectedly, I couldn’t stop eating the delicious meal and suddenly my bento box was totally EMPTY!

From left: Fumiyo Chludzinski, Will Nakada, Susan Shojinaga, Doug Nakada, Gary Nakada, Kisui Fujimoto, Patti Kimura, Tadao Okui, Lois Okui.

Next on the agenda was our art lesson. Jane Matsumoto, JACCC’s Culinary Cultural Arts Program director, taught us how to use furoshiki. Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths that are used to wrap or carry goods. Instead of using paper gift bags or gift-wrapping paper, it is attractive to give a present wrapped the Japanese way. We were shown how to wrap our wooden bento box and the borosilicate glass bottle we were gifted.

After the delicious meal and gazing at the relaxing views of the Japanese garden, admiring the furoshiki-wrapped boxes and chatting with my friends, I felt my love for the Japanese culture blooming inside me. I am very thankful for another wonderful day.


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