There are three questions the people back home like to ask me other than “how have you been?”
One of the questions is: How`s the food?
I absolutely hate Japanese food. I just don`t like it.
Really the only things I will eat are the noodles and soups. Anything else is a bit bland in my opinion.
The good thing is, because I don`t eat meat anyway, I don`t really find myself around Japanese foods too often. I cook all my meals, give or take a weekend day, and I try to make them as Mexican in taste as I can by using what`s available to me.
When I do go out to eat I somehow always find myself at Kappa Sushi, a chain-sushi restaurant just a good walk from my dwelling.
The menu at Kappa is pretty extensive, if you`re into raw meat. But for us non flesh eaters, Kappa has a good 5-10 options, which, in all fairness, isn`t bad if you`re not a picky eater like me.
When you are like me, your options are narrowed down to 4: the cucumber roll, the kanpyo (gourd) roll, the corn roll, and fries.
People say you can`t have a relationship with food but I`d say they`re liars. Because there has not been one day with a sky painted by ashes of death and solitude, one glimmering with sunshine and daffodils, nor one drenched in the abyss of smog and polluted rain that I have ever in my life not been supported by the comfort and warmth of a crispy fry filling the spaces in my mouth and stomach.
Fries are perfect for all occasions: bbqs, picnics, lazy days, beach days, weddings, amusement park days, lunch, dinner, even breakfast. If you find those occasions odd it`s because you`re only seeing fries as McDonald`s has showed you for so many years: as thin to medium sized strips.
But you forget where the fry comes from: a potato.
A fry comes from a potato.
Along with the curly fries and waffle fries, potato wedges, tater tots, and hashbrowns fall into the category of fries.
Don`t argue with me on this one.
The only thing I will not accept into the fry category are mashed potatoes and it`s accomplices: potato salad and baked potato.
The first month of my “eat or die challenge” in Japan I discovered a lovely item in the frozen section of the grocery stores: potato wedges.
I usually hate frozen foods but how could I abuse a relationship that had so many good memories over my bougie ways? So I bought a pack.
Then the next day I went back and bought 2 more. Then I bought at least 3 packs each week from then on.
(If you`re thinking this isn`t healthy well: 1.) Spare me your condemnation and 2.) I baked them so it`s all good, man.)
Then at one outing to some type of bar I ordered fries, because I don`t drink, I was just there for the people. Then at a karaoke outing, I ordered fries again. Then at a Kappa outing with one of the lovely girls from the team I remembered that fries were an option, and so I decided to get some fries to accompany my veggie sushi rolls.
About three weeks ago when I was with a much larger crowd celebrating a birthday at Kappa, I ordered fries again.
However during the birthday outing I think I finally realized I decided to get the fries out of a desire to have some familiarity.
In all honesty the birthday crowd was lovely. It was just missing something: fries. Wait, I mean friends.
Which brings me to most asked question number two: Have you made any friends?
It`s amazing how you can be surrounded by so many friendly people, and go around saying they`re your friend, but not have one true friend.
At night, the Kappa birthday outing transformed to a drinks, food, and game party setting where the crowd changed ever so slightly. I still found myself just going with the motions trying to find a familiar ground.
Uno and other card games were only slightly familiar. Even the music just barely added a layer, and there was diverse music! Indian, Latino, pop, hip-hop, reggae and I still wasn`t quite being myself around everyone. Sure I wasn`t being phony or anything but there was just something missing.
So, after the party I reported my woes to the good Lord God who I can tell anything to and He answers back, and I said to Him (kind of in these words),
“What`s this feeling that I`m feeling?”
And He explained to me (in much fuller detail than what I`m about to write) that the reason why I was feeling kind of out of place was because I was out of place.
He reminded me of things He`s told me before and encouraged me to not hold back my true self but to stand out and be a light. He reminded me that He told me to not eat meat because He wanted me to be set apart. He also reminded me not to drink any alcohol or to have sex outside of marriage as well so that I can stay focused on Him.
He was reminding me of all these things that I soon got scared and was like (kind of in these words),
“Hol up! You want me to be set a part and all that, but that all sounds like a lonely life. How am I suppose to have any friends?”
And then, being the cool and collected person that He is, Abba said to me,
“You don`t have any friends anyway.”
Talk about a wake-up call.
As I was about to dispute His claim by naming all my friends He then politely informed me that the only true friends I`ve ever had were Him, my mom, and my brother.
Then He went on to define a friend as someone who encourages someone else in His Word.
I started going through my list of “friends” and testing them based on that logic. I realized the only people who have done that for me are my mom and brother, just as He said.
The reason that I felt like I wasn`t quite having the best time ever wasn`t just because of the people it was because of the lack of God flowing in the conversations at the party.
The familiarity I was missing wasn`t an order of fries, but was the mentioning of Jesus.
I`m used to spending two to three hours on the phone with my mom talking about things we`ve learned from scriptures, sermons or testimonies we`ve had.
I`m used to going to restaurants with Christian people and losing track of the time because we`ve been having a ball talking about God`s good hand in our lives.
But there I was at a party filled with Christians with no one itching to talk about God, but me, who was too chicken to say anything.
And so God also told me that even though some people may not act as friends to me, I do not have to stop being a friend to other people, but continue doing what I do by directing them in Christ.
This all was said to me about 3 weeks ago. Just this week I actually found the scripture that goes along with it: John 15:12-14.
I actually go more into detail here about God`s description of a true friend, but just briefly this verse says that laying down your life for someone else is the greatest act of love. Laying down your life doesn`t just mean your physical breath and body but your social life as well, or in plain terms your pride.
Jesus risked His entire social life by healing people on the Sabbath and teaching the true things of God before He even laid down His physical body.
And this month I`ve learned that I can do the same thing because I`m a friend of God too. I shouldn`t be afraid of bringing up Jesus in conversations because He`s better and more beneficial than whatever is being discussed anyway. I`m willing to look like Boo Boo the Fool if it means someone else can experience the joy of knowing God themselves.
It`s okay to order fries at a sushi, ramen, udon or whatever joint if by fries you mean the Word of God, because it`ll make everyone`s meal much tastier.
So remember dear reader, there`s never a bad time to have fries with your sushi.
(If you`ve been focusing on the count, you`ve noticed that I didn`t hit most asked question 3, well that`s another post for another day.)