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Saturday, April 26, 2008

JAPAN LITE

Stalked by cheesecake


Do you ever feel like you're being followed? Well, I do. And this time I'm definitely being followed, possibly even stalked — by cheesecake.

I'm not talking about cheesecake waiting outside my door and watching my comings and goings. I'm talking about cheesecake coming straight into my house! In the form of omiage. It seems that absolutely everyone has given me some kind of gift of cheesecake lately.

But being pursued by cheesecake is better than being stalked by Castella cake, which was the case last year. This ubiquitous Japanese sponge cake was originally brought to Japan in the 16th century and became popular among sailors who were at sea for months at a time.

Thus, Castella cake was popular for its, um, staying power. Surely you have noticed how you just can't get rid of Castella cake — it never goes bad. Which is why so many people give it away.

But the good thing about Castella cake is that you can never tire of the taste, because it doesn't really have any. And, it's always good to know there is something in the back corner of the frig that can still be served if you get unexpected visitors.

So being stalked by cheesecake is actually a step up. I suppose that it is not surprising that along with cheesecake comes cheesy English. The other day, I received a cheesecake called Kobe Kings Cheese Cake (I never even knew Kobe had a king) that said on the box, "This cheesecake adheres to a material and is using only the extravagant egg." Now, try to parse that sentence!

First, we must look at the claim that the cheesecake adheres to materials. In this increasingly competitive world, I can only presume that this is an attempt to offer an all-round dessert that does everything.

It doesn't just please the palate, but it can also be used as an adhesive, to glue materials together. And certainly this would be more environmentally friendly as you could recycle cheesecake and not have to throw it away.

Now, about the extravagant egg. Extravagant eggs, I presume, come from extravagant chickens, ones strutting around wearing gold ankle bracelets, diamond necklaces and fur coats. And naturally, they would hold extravagant cocktail parties. Their diet would not be chicken feed either. After all, this is the Kobe King's cheesecake we're talking about.

But that's not all! This cheesecake promises even more. The text continues: "Extravagant time will be directed if I have this cake attached to teatime." I think this means that if you have this cheesecake at tea time, you will then know which direction the extravagant time is coming from.

There is also a curious abbreviation on the package: KMDNV. This, apparently, s tands for Kobe Million Dollar's Night View (why, of course!). I don't know about you, but I can't imagine paying a million dollars to see a view, especially at night. You'd think you'd get a discount.

But these guys selling these night views for a million bucks don't miss a trick. They have even trademarked KMDNV, just in case someone else should attempt to steal the abbreviation.

It's not hard to see why I lock my doors now. If any more cheesecake gets in, I'll have to start having birthday parties for mice.

But the other day, there was a knock on the door. I hesitated before opening the door and asked the person if they knew the password. He did, so I let him in. It turned out to be the postman.

"A package from Tokyo," he said.

It was from, believe it or not, a Japanese friend named Chizuko.

The package had cheesy English that read, "The sky is large and boundless. Looking up at it while lying on the hay. I realize that the earth is really round. And the ground animals and people which are harmonized by the horizon drawing 180 degrees. I was wholly inhaled into the great nature to be overpowered by its calm landscape."

The good thing is that the individually wrapped cakes were not cheesecake. The bad thing is — I am now being stalked by Cheese Bouchee.



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