⟨ Food ⟩

Yukiko and Yukiko

Kimpira Gobo

Words & Photography / 林琪香

1.

「我回來了。」陽太感到小腿被一團軟綿綿的東西蹭著,他知道是如月。「喵嗚⋯⋯」
他放下行李,點亮了燈,抱起如月。如月將頭靠在他的肩上,他有節奏地拍著牠的大腿,才想起由起子今天帶著女兒去參加同學生日會。如月向來不親他,這天居然主動走近,腹腔還發出連綿的呼嚕呼嚕,大概是因為整天獨自在家,終於有人回來,對牠的可愛作出肯定。

脫掉鞋子,抱著如月把手交替地清洗,轉身正想打開冰箱取啤酒,瞥到冰箱上貼著字條:「金平牛蒡,吃前翻熱後拌麻油。記得餵如月啊。」

如月明明是他的貓,是甚麼時候開始變得跟由起子較親近呢?他把金平牛蒡連著保鮮盒放進微波爐內,調了時間,微波瀘低鳴,金平牛蒡在燈光下轉呀轉。他忽然想起,不,如月不是他的貓,而是由起子的。另一個由起子的。

2.

他與由起子同居的第三年,由起子突然消失無踪了。

那天將近晚餐的時間,由起子拋下一句「我去買醬油」,然後就沒再回來了。他整夜給她打電話發短訊都沒有回應,廚房裡切好的牛蒡泡在水裡一整晚,水已被染成棕色,由起子還是沒有回來。翌日的早晨,他收到由起子的訊息:「我去一趟長旅行,如月就暫時拜托你了。」
他疑惑又恐慌,深怕她遇到不測,可是她的家人朋友似乎早知道她要去旅行的事,感到意外的只是他。究竟是為甚麼呢?為甚麼不辭而別?

由起子離開後的一星期,他整理不了思緒開始整理房間,打開鞋櫃、翻開衣櫥,逐一點算著。由起子的衣物不多,他卻說不出她有否帶走鞋子與大衣,也不知道她的護照平常收在哪兒。她的行李箱呢?是甚麼時候不見了?⋯⋯他把泡了一星期水,已有點發臭的牛蒡丟掉,把擱在流理台上發軟變乾的紅蘿蔔丟掉,扔了垃圾,呆坐在沒有由起子的客廳裡。

3.

在翻熱金平牛蒡的時候,陽太放下如月,為牠開了罐頭。如月踏著叮叮咚咚地腳步走近食盆,豎得筆直的尾巴的尖端勾出一個微笑。如月已十五歲了,身體還算健康,但牙齒都掉光,吃不了貓餅乾。陽太用手背輕撫著如月低垂的額頭,牠應該忘記以前的由起子了吧,因為十年前,現在的由起子走進了牠的生命,同時走進了他的生命。

4.

一年後,聽朋友說由起子結婚了,對像就是跟她去旅行的人。陽太記得自己曾經很難過,很不解,只是難過也過了,時間刷過就模糊了,淡薄如同晨霧。

某天因為要搬家,陽太翻箱倒櫃,將由起子留下來的衣服寄回她父母家,書及唱片則打包起來,又將廚櫃內一堆過期的調味料統統放進垃圾袋——料理油、味醂、醬油⋯⋯在客廳壁櫃的抽屜裡深處,躺著由起子留下的半瓶香水,好一陣子,陽太想念由起子時,便會拿出來嗅一嗅,但不知何時,已被塞到暗角裡。

陽太偶爾還是會到以往常於由起子一起去的日式家常餐廳,點了煎蛋與金平牛蒡,默默地獨自喝清酒。由起子是因為喜歡這店的金平牛蒡,才學習做的,味道相近。後來因為業主加租,餐廳倒閉了,陽太就轉到鄰近的意大利餐廳,並認識裡餐廳的女經理。

「叫我由起子好了。」初聽到這名字,陽太心頭一震,但女經理展現的笑容如太陽,陽光一照,晨霧便散去。

5.

叮的一聲,微波爐的燈光熄滅了,廚房裡瀰漫著醬油香。陽太給它繞上麻油,站在流理台前,就喝起啤酒,吃起金平牛蒡來。嗯⋯⋯就如平常一樣,有點太咸了,但配啤酒剛剛好。這是他的由起子的味道。

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金平牛蒡

材料:

牛蒡 1 條、紅蘿蔔半條、乾辣椒 1 條、芝麻適量

調味料:
醬油 2 小匙、味醂 2 小匙、砂糖 1 小匙;清酒 1 小匙、麻油 1 小匙。

做法:

  1. 將牛蒡及紅蘿蔔切絲、乾辣椒剪成小塊;
  2. 鍋子下油,油熱後,放進牛蒡及紅蘿蔔;
  3. 牛蒡及紅蘿蔔用中小火炒至金黃色(用中小火炒,可避免炒至出水或太軟);
  4. 加入乾辣椒略炒;
  5. 拌入除麻油外的調味料,炒至收汁;
6. 撈起,拌入芝麻,吃前再繞上麻油

註:做好的金平牛蒡,能在冰箱保存三天左右。

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是日器物:市野吉記的仿安南燒

1.

‘I’m home.’ Instantly Hatuta felt a sensation of something fluffy rubbing against his calf, he knew very well it is Kisaragi. ‘Meow…’

After putting down the belongings and switching on the lights, he picked up Kisaragi, who leaned her head against his shoulder. As he petted her with a certain rhythm, he remembered Yukiko was out with their daughter for her classmate’s birthday party. Kisaragi is rarely attached to Hatuta, so her sudden approach caught him by surprise. She was even purring loudly, perhaps out of the satisfaction that someone finally recognized her cuteness after a long lonely stay at home.

He took off his shoes and washed his hands alternately with one hand holding Kisaragi at a time. Trying to grab a can of beer from the fridge, he saw a memo on the fridge door saying, ‘Kimpira Gobo. Warm it up and drizzle sesame oil before eating. Remember to feed Kisaragi.’

Kisaragi used to be his cat, since when has she become closer to Yukiko? Together with the tupperware, he warmed up the Kimpira Gobo in microwave. The microwave started to send out a low-frequency buzz after the timer was set. Looking at the Kimpira Gobo slowly rotating under the light, he suddenly remembered Kisaragi was never his cat; she belonged to Yukiko. She once belonged to another Yukiko.

2.

In their third year of living together, Yukiko abruptly vanished without a trace.

It was almost dinner time when Yukiko told him, ‘I’m buying some soy sauce.’ And then, she just never came back. He spent the entire night calling and texting her, but never got any reply from the other end. The Gobo had been soaked through the night and turned the water brownish. Even then, Yukiko didn’t come back. He received a message from Yukiko the next morning, she wrote, ‘I’m off for a long journey. Please take care of Kisaragi.’

He was at the same time confused and terrified. He was so worried that she might be caught in some accident. However, all her family and friends seemed to be aware of her planned trip. No one was confused except him. Why was this departure without goodbye? Why didn’t she discuss with him?

A week after her departure, he started to tidy the room to organize his thoughts. He opened the shoe cabinet and rearranged the closet. Although Yukiko didn’t own too many clothes and shoes, he couldn’t tell if she brought any shoes or coat along. Where did she use to keep her passport? When did she take away her suitcase? The water soaking Gobo started to smell, he discarded it along with the carrot that went bad on the kitchen worktop. He threw away the garbage and sat in the living room without Yukiko.

3.

When reheating the Kimpira Gobo, Hatuta put down Kisaragi and opened a canned food for her. She walked towards her bowl; her feet made some kata-kata sound, the tip of her tail curled into a smile. Kisaragi is already 15 years old. Although she is relatively healthy, her teeth have all fallen out and therefore cannot eat dry food anymore.

Caressing Kisaragi’s lowered head with the back of his hand, ‘she must have forgotten about the old Yukiko’, Hatuta thought. One Yukiko disappeared from her life 10 years ago; this Yukiko later entered Kisaragi’s life, as well as Hatuta’s.

4.

Hatuta heard from a friend that Yukiko got married a year after her departure. She was married to her travel companion. He remembered the hurtful feeling that was mixed with puzzlement, but all have become history. Everything just fades like mist along with time.

Hatuta was clearing cabinets and drawers before moving, for that reason he sent all Yukiko’s clothes to her parents, and packed all books and records. Opening the kitchen cabinet, he found loads of expired seasoning: seasoning oil, mirin, soy sauce… he simply collected them all in a trash bag. Deep inside the closet in the living room lied half a bottle of Yukiko’s perfume. There had been a long time when Hatuta would sniff the perfume when he thought of Yukiko, but it’d been a long time since the perfume last got taken out.

Hatuta occasionally would still visit the homey Japanese restaurant that he used to go with Yukiko. In there he always ordered a sunny side up, Kimpira Gobo and drank sake alone. Yukiko got inspired by this place in making Kimpira Gobo, that’s why the taste was similar. The restaurant closed as the owner couldn’t afford the raised rent, after that, Hatuta switched to an Italian restaurant nearby. And that was where he got to know the restaurant lady manager.

‘Please call me Yukiko.’ Hatuta was shocked upon hearing her name at first, but the unfading shadow in his mind was completely blown away by the lady manager’s bright smile.

5.

Ding! Light in the microwave was off and the kitchen was filled with a tasty smell of soy sauce. Hatuta sprinkled sesame oil on the Kimpira Gobo, opened a can of beer, and enjoyed his meal at the kitchen worktop. As usual, the dish was a little too salty, but it tasted just right with beer. This is the taste prepared by his Yukiko.

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Kimpira Gobo

Ingredients:

1 Gobo, ½ Carrot, 1 Dried chilli, some sesame

Seasoning:

2 tsp Soy sauce, 2 tsp Mirin, 1 tsp Sugar, 1 tsp Sake, 1 tsp Sesame oil.

Steps:

  1. Cut gobo and carrot into fine strips, cut dried chilli into small pieces.
  2. Pour oil into the pan, add gobo and carrot when oil is heated up.
  3. Stir fry gobo and carrot until golden brown in medium low heat (using medium low heat can prevent vegetables from turning watery or soggy).
  4. Add dried chilli to stir fry.
  5. Add all seasoning except sesame oil, stir fry until sauce is thickened.
  6. Remove from pan and add sesame. Drizzle sesame oil before serving.

Note: Prepared Kimpira Gobo can be kept in fridge for around 3 days.

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Container of the day: An’nan style pottery by Ichino Yoshiki