I have a secret hobby. My hobby is photographing old or unusual vending machines around Japan. Many foreigners are surprised by vending machines in Japan. When I first came to Japan I was surprised that one vending machine could sell hot and cold drinks. There were so many different kinds of drinks in each vending machine that I could never try them all. Once when I was in Tokyo I found a street corner where I could see 16 vending machines at once. All of them sold drinks! After I lived in Japan for a while I got used to seeing vending machines everywhere, even next to rice fields. But sometimes I still see machines that surprise me. This month I went to Shiga prefectue for a day. I saw a very old vending machine that sold 1 liter bottles of tea and Sake, but it was broken. I also saw a vending machine that only sold tea and water. The real surprise was that it was at the top of a mountain! It took me one hour to hike 6 kilometers to the top. There was also a rope way, but no road. Somehow this machine came up the rope way! Vending machines in Japan are amazing!
Food has always been a big part of my family’s culture. My dad comes from a large, Polish/Irish family in Buffalo, New York, where sharing a large family meal is an important part of the day. My mom is from the South, where food is not just a meal, but a way of offering comfort and kindness to friends. Because of both of their upbringings, making and sharing food as a family was a major part of my life in the USA.
Though we enjoyed many fantastic meals together, my all-time favorite meal is spaghetti. My dad is the genius behind this particular rendition. He combines tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, onions, green peppers, and ground turkey meat to create the perfect red sauce.
Whenever I am feeling sad or homesick, eating a dish of spaghetti makes me feel close to my family. Even just the smell of tomato sauce lifts my spirits! In English, we refer to foods that bring us joy in a sentimental way as “comfort food.” Spaghetti is my comfort food. What’s yours?